Heritage is Often Overlooked


Heritage is Often Overlooked

Heritage resources are protected. They may not be disturbed without a permit from the relevant heritage resources authority.

Do you know what Heritage is, and how to deal with it? Did you know that you have to notify the SAHRA or responsible heritage resources authority in the early stages of initiating a linear project, the construction of a bridge, clearing or earthmoving activities and rezoning, if they exceed certain thresholds?

The applicable section taken from the National Heritage Resources Act, 1999 (Act No. 25 of 1999) reads as follows:

Heritage resources management

38. (1) Subject to the provisions of subsections (7), (8) and (9), any person who intends to undertake a development categorised as—
(a) the construction of a road, wall, powerline, pipeline, canal or other similar form of linear development or barrier exceeding 300m in length;
(b) the construction of a bridge or similar structure exceeding 50m in length;
(c) any development or other activity which will change the character of a site—
(i) exceeding 5 000 m2 in extent; or
(ii) involving three or more existing erven or subdivisions thereof; or
(iii) involving three or more erven or divisions thereof which have been consolidated within the past five years; or
(iv) the costs of which will exceed a sum set in terms of regulations by SAHRA or a provincial heritage resources authority;
(d) the re-zoning of a site exceeding 10 000m2 in extent; or
(e) any other category of development provided for in regulations by SAHRA or a provincial heritage resources authority,
must at the very earliest stages of initiating such a development, notify the responsible heritage resources authority and furnish it with details regarding the location, nature and extent of the proposed development.
(2) The responsible heritage resources authority must, within 14 days of receipt of a notification in terms of subsection (1)—
(a) if there is reason to believe that heritage resources will be affected by such development, notify the person who intends to undertake the development to submit an impact assessment report. Such report must be compiled at the cost of the person proposing the development, by a person or persons approved by the responsible heritage resources authority with relevant qualifications and experience and professional standing in heritage resources management; or
(b) notify the person concerned that this section does not apply.

One may be able to argue that the modification, alteration, expansion or reconstruction of a road, wall, powerline, pipeline, canal, bridge or other similar developments are exempt from the requirement to notify the SAHRA if you consider that these activities are excluded from the definition of ‘construction in terms of Listing Notice 1, GN No. R.544, GG No. 33306, 18th June, 2010, which means the building, erection or establishment of a facility, structure or infrastructure that is necessary for the undertaking of a listed or specified activity but excludes any modification, alteration or expansion of such a facility, structure or infrastructure and excluding the reconstruction of the same facility in the same location, with the same capacity and footprint.

Once notified, the SAHRA may request that suitably qualified practitioners compile a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) report inclusive of an assessment of impacts to archaeological and palaeontological resources.

Alternatively, before any development proposed in terms of NEMA (Act 107 of 1998) is approved, it is incumbent on the developer to ensure that a HIA is done that satisfies Section 38(3) of the NHRA. The completed HIA report must identify all archaeological and palaeontological resources, assess their significance and make recommendations about what mitigation may be required. The completed report must be submitted to SAHRA for assessment. Appropriate mitigation, which involves recording, sampling and dating sites that are to be destroyed, may be required depending on the nature and significance of the resources identified.

Joubert bridge was built in 1896/7 over the Blyde River

Who do I notify?

In KZN, the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape, the functioning Provincial Heritage Resources Authorities must be approached regarding their process in terms of Section 38 applications. The SAHRA must be notified for the remaining provinces.

How do I notify the SAHRA?

As of 31st March, 2013, the SAHRA no longer accept requests for comment or decisions in terms of Section 38 of the NHRA, 1999 (Act No. 25 of 1999) in hardcopy format. All submissions must be made to SAHRA by Environmental Assessment Practitioner’s via SAHRIS from the 01st April, 2013.
A user friendly help guide is available at http://www.sahra.org.za/sahris/faqs

What is SAHRIS?

The SAHRA has recently migrated all of its applications to the national online heritage management system, South African Heritage Resources Information System (SAHRIS).

To register as a new applicant on SAHRIS, if you have not done so already, navigate to the SAHRA homepage, http://www.sahra.org.za. Simply click on the log in/register link above the SAHRA banner, click on create 'new account' and follow the steps to register on SAHRIS. Please create your username in this format: first name. surname (e.g. john.doe). Once you have created a user account you need to link a profile to it. If you have already dealt with SAHRA in the past it is possible that your profile already exists - go to http://www.sahra.org.za/search/site/?f[0]=bundle%3Apeople and enter your name with 'Retain filters' checked. If your name comes up then please message your case officer or Nic Wiltshire to link your profile to your user account. You will be granted authorship rights to your profile so that you can update your own information going forward. If your name does not appear, simply go to My Account, then click on CREATE A PROFILE. Fill in the various fields and save your profile - you will notice a new block on the right hand side of your account describing your profile.

A series of tutorials has been uploaded to guide users on registering and uploading cases. These are available at: www.sahra.org.za/sahris (or click on the SAHRIS menu link on the front page of the SAHRA website). If you are uploading project information, please ensure that you do not create duplicate cases on the system by performing a keyword search to see if any part of the project has already been uploaded or by checking the maps (http://www.sahra.org.za/map/reports  or
http://www.sahra.org.za/permitapplications/map). If a case already exists, please contact our systems administrator, Nic Wiltshire (nwiltshire@sahra.org.za) to obtain authorship rights in order to be able to upload further documents.

The system will also allow you to view other developments near your project area as well as the heritage reports compiled for those projects and SAHRA's communications with those applicants.

What is Heritage?

Categories of heritage resources include, inter alia:

  • Evidence of archaeological sites or remains include remnants of stone-made structures, indigenous ceramics, bones, stone artefacts, ostrich eggshell fragments, marine shell and charcoal/ash concentrations.
  • Archaeological or palaeontological sites over 100 years old,
  • Sites of cultural significance associated with oral histories,
  • Significant cultural landscapes or viewscapes,
  • Burial grounds, unmarked human burials, graves of victims of conflict, and/or graves older than 60 years,
  • Structures older than 60 years,
  • Fossils, etc.
What must I do if I find a Heritage Resource?
  • • Alert the SAHRA Archaeology, Palaeontology and Meteorites (APM) Unit immediately.
  • Contact a professional archaeologist or palaeontologist, depending on the nature of the finds, as soon as possible to inspect the findings.
  • If the newly discovered heritage resources prove to be of archaeological or palaeontological significance, a Phase 2 rescue operation may be necessary.