It is important to note that there are two ways to resolve environmental disputes: using the courts and the formal legal channels or using alternative ‘non-legal’ methods such as public campaigns, petitions, etc. It may be appropriate to use both ways in specific situations.
When deciding what action to take to solve an environmental dispute, it is important to first determine what rights have been infringed. Once you have done this you will be able to consider which action would be most appropriate. Here is a suggested three-step plan for dealing with an environmental dispute:
Establish which rights are infringed
Work out what you want to do to address the infringement (for example, use the courts, hold a public demonstration, etc) – this would probably be informed by the relief you are seeking as well as by what is provided for in the applicable laws
Decide who to approach for help – this would depend on the relief sought
Refer to the website of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism: www.environment.gov.za