She also found there was a need for enhanced monitoring of atmospheric emissions in the HPA to ensure the collection of verified, reliable data and that real-time emissions data be made publicly available online and on request.
There was a need, she said, for a comprehensive air quality compliance monitoring and enforcement strategy and a programme to take action against non-compliant facilities in the HPA.
She ordered that all relevant national departments, municipalities, provincial departments and MECs participate in the process and co-operate in the implementation and enforcement of the Highveld Plan.
Collis said adequate financial support, resources and human resource capacity must be made available to address the pollution issue.
“The costs of this application, including the costs of three counsel, are to be paid, jointly and severally, by the first and second respondents,” the judge said.
Activists from the groundWork Trust and Vukani Environmental Movement (VEM), represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights, had approached the court for help in 2019. They wanted to stop the high pollution levels in the Highveld Priority Area which was formally declared a pollution hotspot in terms of the National Air Quality Act in 2007.
To support their case, the organisations referred to a 2017 research study commissioned by groundWork, that estimated 2,239 human deaths per year, as well as more than 9,500 cases of bronchitis among children aged between six and 12, could be attributable to coal-related air pollution in SA.