Johannesburg - Power utility Eskom has applied for a postponement to comply with minimum gas emission standards, the environmental affairs department said on Tuesday.

“The department is committed to ensuring that South Africans' rights to an environment that is not harmful to health and well-being are always taken into consideration, while ensuring that economic growth is not hampered,” spokesperson Albi Modise said in a statement.

He said the department contacted Eskom in December 2013 on the provisions that could be used following Eskom's failure to comply with minimum emission standards at its power stations.

“The Air Quality Act presents an opportunity for any operator, including Eskom, to submit an application for the postponement of the compliance time frames to the Air Quality Officer at the department,” Modise said.

“The postponement of compliance may be granted for a period of five years per postponement.”

Eskom has asked for a postponement for 16 of its power stations, he said. - Sapa