Until the Covid-19 lockdown comes to an end in South Africa, water use licence (WUL) application timeframes have essentially been put on hold, explains Jacky Burke, principal scientist at SRK Consulting.

The lockdown leading from the national state of disaster has meant that the Department of Water and Sanitation cannot work on applications submitted, says Burke. In WUL applications, there are usually strict timeframes within which applicants must complete each stage of the licence application. The department has stated that applicants will be credited with the time lost due to the lockdown, so they will still have the time to complete the work required, says Burke.

“While this means that applications and projects will invariably be delayed, the department is trying to ensure that the stipulated time allowed for each phase of the application still applies to applications,” she says.

She noted that the Department of Environmental Affairs had issued similar notification advising that timeframes were also being extended for official processes including environmental licencing, public participation, appeals and reporting. The notification does, however, stipulate that any authorisations and exemptions expiring during this timeframe will be regarded as extended.