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August 2015

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This month


NELA activities
01. NELA Essay Competition
02. NELA National Conference (Sydney) – save the date!
03. Australian Environmental Law Digest – call for papers
04. IUCN: HQ Library update
05. ACIUCN – new Director

Law and policy developments
06. In the Parliaments
07. In the courts
08. Executive and other policy development
09. Opportunities

Events
10. Global Conference on Environmental Taxation
11. Global Network for the Study of Human Rights and the Environment: Annual Symposium
12. AELERT Conference 2015
13. Annual LAWASIA conference
14. Indigenous peoples and saltwater / freshwater governance for a sustainable future
15. 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress

 

NELA activities

NELA Essay Competition

The NELA Essay Competition invites entries of high quality, cutting-edge scholarship on Australian environmental law and/or climate law in its annual essay competition. Entries will be reviewed by a panel of experts and the winning essay – with a prize of $1,000 and a free NELA membership – will be announced by mid-January 2016. The competition is open to any student enrolled at an Australian tertiary institution including undergraduate and postgraduate programs. Entries close 5pm, 1 December 2015. The word limit is 4000–7000w. The winning essays will be considered for publication in the Environmental and Planning Law Journal or in NELA’s publications.

 

Header NELA National Conference (Sydney) – save the date!

NELA’s national conference will be held at the Pullman in Sydney on 13 November 2015. It’s a must-attend event with a fabulous program of topics and speakers. Further details soon…

 

Australian Environmental Law Digest – call for papers

Please forward your contributions to the next edition of the Australian Environmental Law Digest to review@nela.org.au by 8 September 2015. Articles can be about any environmental law topic, and should be 1,000–3,500 words. Longer articles may also be considered. The most recent edition is available here. The edition features great articles on a range of topics, particularly focussing on the regulation of environmental impact.

 

IUCN: HQ Library update

NELA is a member-organisation of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The IUCN HQ Library in Gland, Switzerland, has a monthly newsletter, Off the Shelf. Please sign up here to be included on the mailing list. The library is a unique repository of IUCN publications, periodicals, and reports since 1948, including those prepared by its Secretariat (headquarters, regional and country offices) and Commissions as well as jointly with members and other partners. The Library also houses publications from the Ramsar Convention, TRAFFIC, UNEP and other organisations. Other publications, such as IUCN reports and non-IUCN publications, periodicals and multimedia collections are also available and new stock is added regularly. For more information see the online catalogue. The Library would include ACIUCN’s new publication: Valuing Nature: Ecosystem Services and Protected Areas.

 

ACIUCN – new Director

There’s welcome news that Kathy Zischka has been appointed the Director of the Australian Committee of the IUCN (ACIUCN) to December 2016, a role she has been acting in. The ACIUCN is developing a new regional plan for cooperation between Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific members. Read more about the 2016 World Conservation Congress in Events.

 

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Law and policy development

In the Parliaments

Commonwealth

Restricting access to the courts – inquiry

On 20 August 2015 the Australian Government Minister for* the Environment, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, introduced a proposed amendment of the extended standing provisions in the EPBC Act to limit access to judicial review to those directly affected by a matter. The Explanatory Memorandum is accessible here. The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Standing) Bill 2015 has been referred to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 12 October 2015. Submissions close on 11 September 2015. The Bill has attracted significant criticism as it is intended to limit conservation organisations’ proceedings under the EPBC Act other than injunctions.

 

Register of Environmental Organisations – inquiry

The House of Representatives’ Environment Committee’s inquiry into the Register of Environmental Organisations is continuing with public hearings. Read more.

 

Marine plastic pollution in Australia – inquiry

The Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications invite submissions to its inquiry into the threat of marine plastic pollution in Australia by 10 September 2015. Read more.

 

Landholders’ rights – inquiry

The Senate referred the Landholders' Rights to Refuse (Gas and Coal) Bill 2015 (the Bill) for inquiry and report. The Bill aims to give landholders across Australia the right to say no to coal and gas mining on their land. The Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications held public hearings in Brisbane on 27 July and Canberra on 28 July 2015. The inquiry is due to report on 30 September 2015.

Read more.

 

Tasmanian aquaculture – inquiry report

On 21 August 2015 the Senate Inquiry into the Regulation of the fin-fish aquaculture industry in Tasmania released its final report. The Report recommended that the Tasmanian Government should:

  • support the greater provision of environmental information and data relating to the fin-fish industry by the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment;

  • give consideration to amending the Marine Farming Planning Act 1995 to provide a statutory obligation for the Marine Farming Planning Review Panel to hold public hearings; and

  • ensure that the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment is provided with sufficient resources to undertake planning, monitoring and compliance of the primary industry sector.

Read more.

 

Wind turbines – inquiry report

On 3 August 2015 the Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines, released its final report into the health and financial impacts of wind energy. It recommends the establishment of an Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Industrial Sound (IESC) and that state Environment Protection Authorities rather than local councils monitor wind farms, as in Tasmania, for example, where the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 makes ‘Wind Energy Facilities’ level 2 activities and therefore require assessment by the EPA Board. The Australian Government has already announced the establishment of a National Wind Farm Commissioner to resolve complaints. Read more.

 

Australian Capital Territory

Climate action

On 22 August 2015 the ACT Government announced that it would increasingly divest its investment portfolio of high-carbon emitting companies and sectors and move to 100% renewable energy by 2025. Previous commitments have been to 60% renewables by 2017, 80% by 2018, and 90% by 2020. Read more.

The Conservation Council ACT, 350.org and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition Canberra will co-host the Canberra People's Climate March on the eve of Paris negotiations, at noon on 29 November 2015. The aim is to create the most diverse climate march Canberra has seen.

In NSW and Queensland, increased community interest in using the law to tackle climate change is the impetus behind the decision of EDO Qld and EDO NSW to launch a joint EDO Climate Litigation Fund to help the Australian community hold the government and corporations to account on climate change. Read more.

 

New South Wales

Biosecurity Bill 2015

This NSW Government Bill was introduced into Parliament on Wednesday 12 August 2015. The Bill proposes to repeal and replace a number of Acts governing biosecurity and related matters in NSW, including the Animal Diseases and Animal Pests (Emergency Outbreaks) Act 1991, the Fertilisers Act 1985, the Noxious Weeds Act 1993, the Plant Diseases Act 1924, and the Stock Diseases Act 1923. The Bill is being debated in the Legislative Council. Read more.

 

Non-Profit Bodies (Freedom to Advocate) Bill 2015

This NSW Private Member’s Bill was voted down by the Legislative Assembly on 6 August 2015. The Bill proposed to prohibit State agreements from restricting or preventing non-profit bodies from commenting on, advocating support for or opposing changes to State law, policy or practice. As a result of the Bill failing to pass, non-profit bodies who advocate for legislative policy changes can have their funding cut by the NSW Government. Read more.

 

Rural Fires Amendment (Bush Fire Prevention) Bill 2015

This NSW Government Bill was introduced into Parliament on Wednesday 12 August 2015. The Bill is currently being debated by the Legislative Assembly. Prior to the introduction of the Bill into Parliament, the NSW ministers for the Environment and Emergency Services announced that the 10/50 vegetation clearing scheme will be strengthened to provide better protection for critical habitat and animals and minimise tree clearing for views. The introduction of the Bill follows a review of the scheme by the NSW Rural Fire Service which made 30 recommendations. Read more.

 

Queensland

Queensland contaminated land reform

Amendments of the Environmental Protection Act 1994 concerning the assessment and management of contaminated land in Queensland are expected to commence on 30 September 2015.

The changes affect individuals or organisations investigating, managing or cleaning up contaminated lands and those who wish to request a change to the status of land listed on the Environmental Management Register (EMR) or Contaminated Land Register (CLR). Read more.

 

South Australia

Planning reform

After a two and a half year review process, the SA Government will introduce its Bill to overhaul the planning system on 8 September 2015. Details released to date confirm that a state planning code will be implemented, all development applications will be lodged through a centralised electronic lodgement system, elected members of councils will no longer be entitled to be appointed to development assessment panels, new ‘pathways’ for the processing and assessment of applications will be introduced, and the focus of the planning system will shift from land use-based planning to design and form-based planning. Further details will be provided to NELA members after 8 September 2015.

 

Litter control

Consultations closed on the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Bill 2015 on 31 August 2015. The Bill purports to create offences for local nuisances and littering which in respect of which local councils are the primary enforcement body. Many of the forms of public nuisance proposed by the Bill are matters the EPA currently enforces under the Environment Protection Act 1993. Read more.

 

Tasmania

Industrial Hemp Bill 2015

The Industrial Hemp Bill 2015 (Tas) aims to simplify regulation of the industrial hemp sector in Tasmania. When passed it will enable research into and cultivation and supply of industrial hemp in accordance with a licensing scheme to be administered by the Secretary of the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE). Calls for submissions on the draft Bill are invited until 4 September 2015. Read more.

 

Victoria

Planning – objector numbers

The Planning and Environment Amendment (Recognising Objectors) Act 2015 (Vic) was assented to on 11 August 2015, amending the Planning and Environment Act 1987 (Vic). The purpose of the amendments is to allow the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to have regard to the number of objectors to permit applications when considering whether a proposed use or development may have a significant social effect.

 

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In the Courts

Commonwealth

Consent orders – Carmichael mine – NSD33/2015 Mackay Conservation Group v Minister for Environment

On 4 August 2015 a judge of the Federal Court issued consent orders setting aside a decision of Environment Minister Hunt under the EPBC Act to approve proposed action to develop an open cut and underground coal mine, rail link and associated infrastructure in central Queensland, subject to certain conditions. The Minister had breached the Act by not having regard to approved conservation advices that were not in the material before him at the time he made his decision when the project would impact on the listed threatened species, the Yakka Skink and the Ornamental Snake. Read more.

 

Victoria

Unlicensed waste storage – $28,000 fine

The Victorian EPA has announced that it is has fined VIP Steel Packaging $28,000 after an investigation revealed that waste was being stored at an unlicensed site adjacent to VIP Steel Packaging’s licensed site. Read more.

 

New South Wales

Waste transport and dumping – $110,000 fine

Bulk haulage company Alcobell Pty Ltd has been convicted in the NSW Land and Environment Court and fined $70,000 for unlawfully transporting waste, including asbestos, from Sydney and depositing it on three properties located near Lithgow between 2010 and 2012: Environment Protection Authority v Alcobell Pty Ltd, Environment Protection Authority v Campbell [2015] NSWLEC 123 (5 August 2015).

 

Tasmania

EPBC Act injunction hearing

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre’s challenge to the Tasmanian Government’s proposal to re-open three 4WD tracks within the nationally listed heritage place, the Western Tasmania Aboriginal Cultural Landscape, will return to Court on 12 October 2015. An application for an interlocutory injunction was granted by the Hon Justice Kerr late last year. A ban on the use of the tracks will remain in place until the outcome of the October hearing, although there have been reports that recreational drivers continue to use the tracks.

 

Waste water prosecution

On 19 August 2015 Triabunna-based Seafish Tasmania pled guilty to a number of pollution offences in the Magistrates Court under the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994. The Court found that the company dumped truckloads of waste water at an unnamed creek on Crown Land on a number of occasions causing significant harm to the water quality resulting in the death of marine life. Read more.

 

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Executive and other policy development

United States

Clean Power Plan

The White House and the United States Environment Protection Agency have jointly released America’s final Clean Power Plan which will establish the first ever national standards to limit the carbon pollution from power plants. The plan sets flexible but achievable targets in order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030. According to the Climate Change Authority, the plan could provide a blueprint for other countries on how to reduce emissions quickly and effectively via regulation.

 

Commonwealth

Movable cultural heritage review

The Australian Government’s Ministry for the Arts is consulting on Shane Simpson AM’s review of the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986. Read more.

 

Advanced environmental offsets

The Australian Government has released a draft policy statement on advanced Environmental Offsets under the EPBC Act to complement its EPBC Act environmental offsets policy and how to use the offsets assessment guide. Advanced environmental offsets are created before environmental impacts occur and are intended for future use, transfer or sale by proponents or offset providers. Advanced offsets are intended to be more efficient and strategic, and to speed-up environmental assessment processes. Comment is invited before 12 October 2015.

 

Wildlife trade regulation

The Australian Government is considering a proposal to streamline the regulation of trade in wildlife listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The two key areas for potential reform include streamlining the processing and issuing of CITES permits to provide greater certainty for commercial wildlife trade, including for the crocodile industry; and personal and household effects provisions for the international movement of specimens listed on Appendix II of CITES. Changes to regulation could have implications for organisations, businesses, governments and individuals involved in wildlife trade and tourism and wildlife conservation. Read more.

 

Nanotechnology report

The APVMA report Nanotechnologies for pesticides and veterinary medicines: regulatory considerations—final report has been released. The report looks at the benefits and challenges of regulating nanotechnology for use in agriculture and animal husbandry and highlights the key regulatory considerations for agvet chemical nanomaterials, based on the current state of knowledge. Read more.

 

Review of Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010–30

Australia is reviewing the first five years of Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy. Comments are invited by Friday 11 September 2015 on emerging issues, implementation challenges and opportunities to improve the Strategy. Read more.

 

Pesticide run off – Aquatic exposure estimates

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority invites comments by 21 September 2015 on a proposed framework for environmental assessment of pesticide run-off in dryland cropping regions. This assessment aims to reduce the risk that using pesticides in these regions has on nearby water sources. Read more.

 

Environmental Outcomes-Based Conditions Policy – draft

The Australian Government has developed policy and guidance on outcomes-based conditions under the EPBC Act which aim to achieve environmental outcomes in a less prescriptive way to encourage innovation, at a lowest cost, and with more transparency. Public comments are due by 5 October 2015. Read more.

 

Threatened species summit

On 16 July 2015, the Environment Minister Greg Hunt MP hosted a Threatened Species Summit chaired by the Threatened Species Commissioner, Mr Gregory Andrews. A Threatened Species Strategy was released with a $6.6M funding commitment. For more information see: Chair's summary or watch online.

 

Meeting of Environment Ministers

On 15 July 2015 federal, state and territory Environment Ministers met to progress issues of national environmental significance, including

  • a National Clean Air Agreement that aims to reduce air pollution and promote inter-jurisdictional cooperation;

  • a national recovery plan for koalas – the Commonwealth and Victoria will co-lead work on national koala translocation guidelines, consistent with the koala recovery plan and in consultation with relevant jurisdictions. The focus is on health, welfare and the genetic implications of translocations; and

  • a national declaration on feral cats – all states and territories agreed to review and remove unnecessary barriers to the effective and humane control of feral cats.

Read more.

 

Watermark coal project – NSW – EPBC Act approval

On 21 August 2015 Australian Government Minister for the Environment, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, released a Statement of Reasons for his EPBC Act approval of the Shenhua Watermark Coal mine project (Shenhua). The mine is on the Liverpool Plains, approximately 25 km south-east of Gunnedah, in north-western NSW. The open cut mine will extract 10 million tonnes of coal a year in an area known for its fertile and highly valuable agricultural soils. Three extraction pits will be constructed, mined and rehabilitated throughout the 30-year life of the mine.

On 4 July 2015 18 conditions attached to the approval were released.

The NSW Planning Assessment Commission approved the project in January 2015. The project has been subject to four expert reviews and two reviews by the Independent Expert Scientific Committee (a committee set up to provide scientific advice to decision makers on the impact that coal seam gas and large coal mining development may have on Australia's water resources). The public submission process for the project’s Environmental Impact Statement received 133 submissions. The key issues raised included the management of water resources, the impacts of noise and dust, and the mine's effect on Box Gum Woodlands, koala populations and Aboriginal heritage. The decision to approve the mine was met with substantial media and community attention. Read more.

 

Oxfam Report

On 28 July 2015 Oxfam Australia launched a new report Powering up against poverty: why renewable energy is the future. The Report makes a number of important findings, including:

  • climate change impacts are hitting the poorest communities the hardest;

  • increasing coal consumption is incompatible with protecting the rights and interests of poor communities in developing countries; and

  • addressing climate change and alleviating poverty can and indeed must go hand in hand.

The Report considers alternative methods of reducing emissions, including carbon capture and storage and replacing coal with natural gas. It also provides recommendations about how Australia could be a world leader in tackling global climate change. Read more.

 

New South Wales

Integrated Mining Policy (IMP)

The NSW Government invites comment until 7 September 2015 on its stage two consultation on the Integrated Mining Policy invites comments on Planning Agreement Guidelines, Post-approval Guideline - Annual Review, Post-approval Guideline – Web-based reporting, Post-approval Guideline - Independent Audits and Water Regulation and Policy (summary document). Read more.

 

South Australia

Federal submission to Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission

The Australian Government’s submission to the Royal Commission into the Nuclear Fuel Cycle in South Australia has been released. The submission emphasises the importance of a robust, stable and predictable regulatory system to give the community confidence that risks associated with nuclear fuel can be effectively managed throughout the process. The submission can be accessed here.

 

Tasmania

Small Pelagic Fisheries advisory body disbanded

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) has decided not to reappoint the members of the Small Pelagic Fishery Resource Assessment Group (SPFRAG). The SPFRAG provided advice and recommendations to the AFMA including the AFMA Commission on the status of target stocks, harvest rates and total allowable catches, and the impact of fishing on the marine environment.

The AFMA will review alternative ways to seek the advice on the management of the Small Pelagic Fisheries (SPF). Key decisions regarding the management of the SPF, such as setting total allowable catches for the 2015-16 fishing year, were made by the AFMA Commission in April. The AFMA Commission will make a decision on how it will receive future scientific advice on the SPF next month.

Read more.

 

Wellington Park Management Trust – cable car amendment criticism

The Tasmanian Planning Commission has handed down its report on the proposed amendments to the Wellington Park Management Plan 2013, requested by the Mount Wellington Cableway Company. The proposed amendments would facilitate the construction of the cable car on Mount Wellington, in Hobart. The Commission’s report was very critical of the Wellington Park Management Trust’s process in relation to the amendment, finding that the Trust had not adequately addressed concerns raised by representations. The Wellington Park Management Trust will now have an opportunity to further amend the Plan to address the Commission's recommendations before the final amended Plan is submitted to the Governor for approval.

Read more.

 

Victoria

Unconventional gas – report

The Victorian Auditor-General has released its report into the potential for an unconventional gas industry in the State, concluding that Victoria is not as well placed as it could be to respond to the environmental and community risks and impacts that may arise if the moratorium on coal seam gas exploration and development is lifted. The report also makes a number of recommendations and can be accessed here.

 

Western Australia

Kalbarri National Park 10-year plan

The WA State Government has released a 10-year management plan for Kalbarri National Park to guide recreation, tourism and the protection of biodiversity and cultural. It includes key performance indicators for managing flora and fauna, threatened species, fire, weeds, pest animals and the protection of cultural and historic heritage. Read more.

 

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Opportunities

Environmental law PhD scholarships

The University of Tasmania’s Faculty of Law and Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies are seeking national and international applicants for a PhD scholarships in:

  • climate change law and governance

  • international environmental law and governance

  • Antarctic law and governance

  • ocean law and governance

  • geoengineering law and governance; or

  • climate change justice.

The scholarship provides $25,849 per annum over 3 years and includes some relocation funding and a waiver of tuition fees. High quality students with honours (or equivalent) undergraduate degrees in law, international relations and/or environmental studies are invited to apply by 30th September 2015. Read more.

 

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Events

Events offered by NELA’s partners (marked Header) can provide substantial savings for NELA members - so check them out and make the most of your NELA membership!

 

Global Conference on Environmental Taxation

The 16th annual Global Conference on Environmental Taxation provides an opportunity to discuss the principles and practices of environmental taxation and other market-based instruments relevant for greening of the economy and a more sustainable development.

When: 23–26 September 2015
Where: UTS, Sydney

For more information click here.

 

Global Network for the Study of Human Rights and the Environment: Annual Symposium

This year’s symposium will address the topic of ‘Environmental Racism’, examining the injustices that arise in response to the climate crisis and the tensions that can arise between human rights and environmental laws.

When: 16 October 2015
Where: University of Lincoln, UK.

For more information click here. To submit an abstract for consideration, please contact Louis.Kotze@nwu.ac.za

 

AELERT Conference 2015

The next AELERT conference ‘Focus on the future: Innovative approaches to environmental regulation’ will be held in Brisbane 27–31 October 2015. Registrations are open. AELERT is a professional network of environmental regulators working in Australian and New Zealand governments at local, state and federal levels.

 

Annual LAWASIA conference

The 28th annual LAWASIA conference focusses on the theme of Cross-Border Law and Practice in the Asia Pacific. A session will be dedicated to Environment and Resources, examining the role of legislation, the legal profession and the courts in balancing environmental and economic concerns, particularly in light of the aspirations of investors in the energy sector.

When: 6–9 November 2015
Where: Sydney

For more information, click here.

 

Indigenous peoples and saltwater / freshwater governance for a sustainable future

The University of Tasmania (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies) and the Australian National University (ANU College of Law) are convening a workshop to bring together scholars and community practitioners to discuss the environmental governance of marine and freshwater areas by and from the perspective of Indigenous peoples.

When: 11–12 February 2016
Where: University of Tasmania, Hobart

The organisers are calling for presenters are participants. For more information, click here

 

Leaf2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress

The IUCN is calling for contributions to the 2016 World Conservation Congress. Held every four years, the IUCN World Conservation Congress brings together leaders from government, the public sector, non-governmental organizations, business, UN agencies and indigenous and grass-roots organizations to discuss and decide on solutions to the world’s most pressing environment and development challenges. Read more.

When: 1–10 September 2016
Where: Hawaii Convention Center, Honolulu, Hawaii

 

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Thanks to the NELA Bulletin team

The NELA Bulletin is researched and written entirely by volunteers. This month, we thank the following people for their contributions:

 

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