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June 2016

You are receiving this Bulletin because you are a member of NELA.

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The NELA Bulletin is published on the first Thursday of each month except January.

Contributions to the Bulletin are welcome and free of cost and should be emailed to the editor by; 5pm AEST; on the preceding Friday.


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This month


NELA news and events
01. NELA Conference – save the date!
02. NELA Policy Interest Groups
03. Australian Environmental Law Digest
04. Contributors Wanted

Law and policy developments
05. In the Legislature
06. In the courts
07. Policy developments and other news
08. Open for comment
09. Opportunities

Events
10. (Canberra) EPBC Act approval condition setting and advanced environmental offsets
11. (Melbourne) Australia’s Environment and Carbon Conference for Business
12. (Perth) Global water challenges and opportunities
13. (Sydney) Contaminated Land seminar
14. (Melbourne) Best practice sustainability reporting
15. (Hawaii) 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress
16. (Melbourne) 2016 NELA National Conference

 

NELA news and events

 

NELA Conference – save the date!

This year’s NELA National Conference will be held on 18 November 2016 at King & Wood Mallesons Melbourne office (Level 50, 600 Bourke Street).

The conference will provide a post-election review of Federal environmental priorities and address topics including compliance activities and the role of regulatory agencies, native vegetation laws, strategic assessment, including the Melbourne Urban Growth Boundary assessment, effective protection of cultural heritage, and management of contaminated sites. We will be inviting abstracts on these and other topics soon.

 

NELA Policy Interest Groups

Members will have received an email last week inviting you to express your interest in joining one or more of our new Policy Interest groups. To register for a group, click here.

 

Australian Environmental Law Digest

The next edition will be published in July 2016, with contributions due on 23 June 2016. If you’d like your article to be considered for publication, please email to Jess Feehely at review@nela.org.au.

 

Contributors wanted

The NELA Bulletin team is still looking for members to contribute brief updates on cases, laws, policies and events for South Australia and the Northern Territory to be included in the Bulletin.

If you are interested in becoming a contributor, please contact Jess Feehely at review@nela.org.au

 

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Law and policy development

In the Legislature

International

Agreement to prevent illegal fishing takes effect

The Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing took effect on 5 June 2016. The Agreement seeks to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing through the implementation of effective measures allowing States to apply restrictions and to monitor and inspect vessels seeking entry to their ports.

To find out more about the Agreement, click here.

 

Commonwealth

With the calling of the election and proroguing of Parliament, all Bills before the House of Representatives and the Senate lapsed. Click on the links below to review the rules regarding the re-introduction of such Bills in the next sitting of Parliament:

 

New South Wales

Coastal Management law passes

On 31 May 2016, the Legislative Assembly passed, without amendment, the Coastal Management Bill previously passed by the Legislative Council. The new Act introduces four classifications for coastal regions – vulnerability areas, wetlands and littoral rainforests, environment areas and use areas – and requires local councils to prepare management plans that take account of the effects of climate change.

For more information about the new laws, click here.

 

Queensland

‘Chain of Responsibility’ laws used

The last issue of NELR mentioned the passage of the Environmental Protection (Chain of Responsibility) Amendment Act 2016. The purpose of this amendment was to allow the government to impose obligations on parties or companies with some relationship to companies in financial trouble.

On 20 May 2016, the government announced that a working group would be established to advise on the application of the new legislation. The group will include representatives of resource industry groups, the Queensland Environmental Law Association, the Law Society, EDO Queensland, the Institute of Company Directors and the banking industry.

On 26 May 2016, the Queensland Government made its first use of the Act, serving an Environmental Protection Order on Peter Bond, the former CEO of Linc Energy, a company which is now in liquidation. The order requires clean up and remediation of an underground coal gasification site.

For more information, click here.

 

Third party appeal rights under Mining Act reinstated

The Queensland Parliament has passed the Mineral and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2016, removing provisions introduced by the former Newman Government which restricted notification and third party appeals against mining lease decisions to those who were directly affected by the lease. The Act also repeals provisions preventing the Land Court from considering impacts on those not directly affected.

For more information regarding the changes, click here.

 

Repeal of sand mining extension

The Queensland Government passed the North Stradbroke Island Protection and Sustainability and Other Acts Amendment Act 2016, effectively reinstating 2019 as the end date for sand mining on Stradbroke Island. The end date had previously been extended until at least 2035.

For more information regarding the Act, click here.

 

Amendments to the Nature Conservation Act 1992

On 25 May 2016, the Queensland Government passed amendments to the Nature Conservation Act 1992, reversing changes introduced by the former government. The amendments restore nature conservation as a sole object of the Act, and restore stronger protection to particular classes of protected areas.

For more information regarding the amendments, click here.

 

Victoria

Environmental Assessment Council to be given additional powers

The Victorian Government has introduced the National Parks and Victorian Environmental Assessment Council Acts Amendment Bill 2016, which aims to confer additional functions on the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council in relation to the conduct of assessments or the provision of advice.

To read the Bill, click here.

 

Western Australia

Land Administration Amendment Bill 2016

This Bill, likely to be introduced into Parliament in June 2016, will seek to introduce a new form of land tenure referred to as a ‘rangelands lease’. This change is intended to diversify the land uses permitted in the rangelands which make up much of Western Australia. A rangelands lease could authorise a variety of uses, including uses associated with the environment (for example, conservation activities undertaken by mining companies to meet their environmental offset and rehabilitation obligations, and carbon sequestration).

To read the Bill, click here.

 

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In the Courts

Northern Territory

Challenge to decision not to heritage list Kulaluk

A Larrakia woman has filed proceedings seeking to challenge a decision by NT Lands and Planning Minister, Dave Tollner, to reject the Heritage Council's recommendation to list a 300ha coastal property of significance to indigenous communities. The Kulaluk lease that was the subject of the listing recommendation is at the centre of a dispute over its proposed development.

The case will challenge the lawfulness of the Minister’s decision, alleging that he failed to take account of a number of relevant heritage considerations.

To find out more about the case, click here.

 

Tasmania

Charges under anti-protest laws dropped, High Court challenge proceeding

Tasmania Police have dropped charges against all five people arrested at protests in the Lapoinya forestry coupe earlier this year. Two of the protesters, Dr Bob Brown and Jessica Hoyt have sought to challenge the charges in the High Court, claiming that the Workplace (Protection from Protestors) Act 2014 is contrary to the implied constitutional freedom of political expression.

The Tasmanian government applied to dismiss the challenge after the charges were dropped, however Dr Brown intends to continue with the challenge. The High Court will consider the government’s application at a directions hearing in late June 2016.

 

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Policy developments and other news

Commonwealth

Election policies

Each of the major parties has released a range of climate and environmental policies. Click the links below to see the complete policy lists.

The ACF election scorecard (which will be updated again as the election campaign progresses) provides an objective comparison of the various policies.

 

Renewable energy report card

The Climate Council has released a report card scoring each of the States and Territories on their renewable energy policies and activities. The report, Game On: The Australian Renewable Energy Race Heats Up, rates South Australia and the ACT as the top performers, with NSW languishing in last place.

To read the report, click here.

 

NOPSEMA rejects Chevron’s Wheatstone LNG project

NOPSEMA has rejected the start-up and environment plan submitted for the Wheatstone LNG project, on the basis that Chevron had failed to demonstrate that it would meet the requirements of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Environment) Regulations 2009 in respect of implementation, monitoring and reporting strategies. Chevron is expected to address the issues raised and submit a revised environment plan.

To read more about NOPSEMA’s decision, click here.

 

Carpegeddon: carp reduction programme announced

The Australian Government announced a $15M investment to develop a National Carp Control Plan to help manage carp abundance in the Murray-Darling Basin. A key platform of the plan provides funding for CSIRO research to determine the safety and suitability of using a herpes biocontrol agent shown to cause high mortality in common carp and Koi species.

To read more about the plan and current efforts to manage carp in the Murray-Darling Basin, click here.

 

National Recovery Plans released for four threatened species

The Australian Department of the Environment has Gazetted new National Recovery Plans for four endangered or critically endangered species: Regent Honeyeater, Orange-bellied Parrot, Mallee Emu-wren and the Mountain Pygmy Possum. The recovery plans identify threats to the species and conservation actions to be taken to ensure their long-term viability in the wild.

The Recovery Plans can be found on the Australian Department of the Environment’s website.

 

ACT

Nature Conservation Strategy implementation report

The ACT Government has released a progress report, reporting on its implementation of the Nature Conservation Strategy 2013-2023. The report outlines particular progress on restoration of woodlands, grasslands and aquatic habitat.

To read the progress report, click here.

 

Queensland

Reef taskforce releases water quality report

On 25 May 2016, the Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce delivered its Final Report and recommendations on how to achieve the Queensland Government’s reef water quality targets (reduce nitrogen run-off by up to 80 per cent and sediment run-off by up to 50 per cent).

Among other things, the report recommends developing new regulatory controls requiring agricultural and coastal development activities to avoid net harm to water quality and introducing a water quality offset framework.

To read the full report, click here. A summary communique is available here.

The Final Report did not include costings, however various news outlets have reported that preliminary modelling undertaken by the Taskforce estimates the cost at $16 billion.

 

GBRMPA releases scientific review of coral mortality

In response to various reports regarding the extent of coral bleaching, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has released a report entitled "The Facts on Great Barrier Reef Coral Mortality". The report, based on preliminary findings from mortality assessments undertaken by GBRMPA and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, estimates the extent of total loss at 22% of the reef. The report notes extensive damage, but indicates that approximately 75% of the Reef has not been affected such that it will not recover.

For more information, click here.

 

Tasmania

Energy Security Taskforce appointed

In the wake of ongoing energy supply issues in Tasmania, Tasmania’s Minister for Energy has appointed an Energy Security Taskforce to consider options to improve energy security. The Taskforce, comprising former Aurora chairman, Geoff Willis, Reach Solar Energy chair, Tony Concannon, and AEMO director, Sibylle Krieger, is to deliver a final report within 12 months.

For more information about the Taskforce, click here.

 

Victoria

Cabinet reshuffle

Following a Cabinet reshuffle announced on 23 May 2016, the following Ministers now hold environmental portfolios:

  • Lily D’Ambrosio – Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change (previously, the energy and climate change portfolios were separate); Minister for Suburban Development

  • Lisa Neville – Minister for Water

  • Jacinta Allan – Minister for Major Projects; Minister for Public Transport

  • Wade Noonan – Minister for Resources

 

Our Catchments, Our Communities

The Our Catchments, Our Communities: Integrated Catchment Management in Victoria 2016-2019 strategy for integrated catchment management was launched on 18 May 2016. The Strategy aims to provide a Statewide framework, setting goals and priorities for the management of land, water, biodiversity and climate change.

The strategy identifies the following goals to improve water catchment management:

  • Effective community engagement in catchment management

  • Better connections between state, regional and local planning

  • Strengthened implementation of Regional Catchment Strategies

  • Clearer roles, strengthened accountability and coordination

  • Improved monitoring, evaluation and reporting

To read the Strategy, click here.

 

Special Protection Zone for Greater Gliders in East Gippsland

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning has ceased harvesting activities in a 100-hectare area of East Gippsland after a citizen science survey identified 11 Greater Gliders in the area. As a result of the survey, the Department has confirmed that a Special Protection Zone will be created in accordance with the Management Standards and Procedures for timber harvesting operations in Victoria’s State Forests 2014.

For more information about the community survey, click here.

 

Independent Review of the Environment Protection Authority

The final report of the Independent Inquiry into the EPA was released on 16 May 2016. The report outlines 48 recommendations to improve the operation of the EPA, including:

  • a comprehensive overhaul of the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the establishment of two separate pieces of legislation: a standalone EPA (Establishment) Act and a modernised Environment Protection Act

  • establishing the position of Chief Environmental Scientist

  • strengthening third party rights to seek civil remedies

  • expanding the range and severity of EPA sanctions

  • strengthening mining regulation

The Government is expected to provide a full response later this year, but has already announced that it will establish an interim board to guide the EPA and will employ a Chief Environmental Scientist.

To read the report, click here.

 

Western Australia

Report on independent review of EPA’s policy framework

The Independent Review of the EPA has released its final report. The review was commissioned following the decision in Save Beeliar Wetlands (Inc) v Jacob [2015] WASC 482 (currently subject to appeal) that the EPA had failed to properly apply its own policies.

The Independent Review report recommends that the number of EPA policies be reduced and that all policies be arranged in a hierarchical structure with the objectives and principles of the Environmental Protection Act 1986 at its apex.

The EPA has committed to reviewing its current suite of policies by the end of 2016. To read the report, click here.

 

Report on the draft Mining Legislation Amendment Bill

The draft Mining Legislation Amendment Bill seeks, among other things, to:

  • consolidate the environmental management provisions of the Mining Act 1978; and

  • amend the Environmental Protection Act 1986, so that native vegetation clearing would not require approval under that Act if it has been approved under the Mining Act.

The Legislation Committee of the Legislative Council has completed its review of the draft Bill and made several recommendations regarding amendments.

To read a copy of the Committee report, click here.

 

Annual Audit Compliance Reports

The Department of Environment Regulation (DER) has released the final version of its Guidance Statement on the publication of Annual Audit Compliance Reports (AACRs), to take effect on 1 July 2016. Licence holders are already required to report on environmental compliance through the submission of an AACR, pursuant to their licence conditions. The DER is seeking to increase transparency by making these reports public, including publication of AACRs on its website (rather than requiring an FOI application to be made).

The DER has also published a simplified AACR form and supporting guidelines.

For more information regarding the new guidelines, click here.

 

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Open for comment

Commonwealth

Tjoritja/West MacDonnell National Park – National Heritage place

The Australian Heritage Council is seeking comments on a draft decision to list the Tjoritja/West MacDonnell National Park (including the adjacent Standley Chasm) near Alice Springs as a National Heritage place. The Council's initial assessment indicates that the place might have National Heritage values, particularly in relation to geological processes, biodiversity, and as a place of importance for the Indigenous community and Indigenous artists (including for its special association with Albert Namatjira).

Comments on the draft map and draft description of potential National Heritage values can be made until 20 June 2016. For more information, click here.

 

Smart Cities Plan

On 29 April 2016, the Prime Minister released the Commonwealth’s Smart Cities Plan. The Plan “prioritises smart policy, smart investment and smart technology to improve accessibility, create more jobs, more affordable housing and build healthy environments” and includes:

  • The establishment of an infrastructure financing unit to work closely with the private sector on innovative financing solutions; and

  • committing $50 million to accelerate planning and development works on major infrastructure projects to develop business cases and investment options.

Comments on the Smart Cities Plan can be made until 24 June 2016. For more information about the Plan, click here.

 

Productivity Commission Inquiry into Data Access

The Productivity Commission is conducting an inquiry into information sharing options, accessibility of public and private datasets and disclosure issues. While not limited to environmental information, the inquiry’s scope explicitly includes environmental data sets.

Comments on the Issues Paper can be made until 29 July 2016. For more information regarding the inquiry, click here.

 

New South Wales

Biodiversity package

The NSW Government has released a legislative package designed to implement its new native vegetation clearing framework. The package includes a Biodiversity Conservation Bill 2016, amendments to the Local Land Services Act 2013 and a series of codes of practices outlining allowable clearing and clearing for which a permit is required.

Comments on the legislative package can be made until 28 June 2016. For more information, click here.

 

Queensland

Criteria and conditions for Environmentally Relevant Activities

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection has released draft standards and eligibility criteria for 20 prescribed environmentally relevant activities (ERAs) under the Environmental Protection Act 1994.

Comments on the draft standards can be made until 28 June 2016. For more information, including a summary of proposed changes, click here.

 

Tasmania

Draft Cat Management Plan

The Draft Tasmanian Cat Management Plan, prepared by the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, aims to reduce the negative impacts of cats on the environment, agriculture and human health. The Plan makes a series of recommendations regarding confining domestic cats and managing feral cats.

Public comments on the Draft Plan can be made until 30 June 2016. For more information, click here.

 

Regulation of Wild Fallow Deer

The Legislative Council is holding an inquiry into Tasmania’s wild fallow deer population, considering the environmental impacts on public and private land, reduction in productivity on rural land, potential commercial uses for wild stock and whether the species should remain “partly protected” under the Wildlife (General) Regulations 2010.

Submissions to the Inquiry can be made until 30 June 2016. For more information, click here.

 

Victoria

Guidance for developments near landfills

EPA Victoria has released a draft guideline for assessing planning proposals near landfills, addressing matters including default buffer distances and buffer variations and assessing the risk of odour impacts.

Comments on the draft Guidelines can be made until 8 July 2016. For more information, click here.

 

Western Australia

BHP Billiton seeks approval for Pilbara projects

BHP Billiton has released a public environmental review regarding its future activities in the Pilbara for consideration by the EPA. Comments on the public environmental review document can be made until 13 June 2016.

The review complements an application made under the EPBC Act for strategic assessment of its projects in the region. Comments on that application closed on 2 May 2016.

For more information on both assessments, click here.

 

Draft Guideline on Environmental Noise for Prescribed Premises

The Department of Environment Regulation has released a draft guideline describing the methodology for predicting and measuring noise emissions for prescribed premises.

Comments on the draft guideline can be made until 16 June 2016. For more information, click here.

 

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Opportunities

Grants

NSW Food Waste Grants

The NSW Environmental Trust is inviting applications to its “Love Food, Hate Waste” Grants Program by 14 June 2016. Local councils, NGOs and community groups can apply for grants of between $5,000 and $70,000 for projects designed to reduce food waste.

For more information, click here.

 

NTEPA launches environmental grants program

On 3 May 2016, the Northern Territory EPA launched its 2016-2017 environment grants program. Schools and other organisations can apply to the EPA for funding to assist with a range of projects. Grants of up to $30,000 are also available for Container Deposit Scheme infrastructure projects.

For more information, click here.

 

WA Grants for Construction Waste Recycling

Environment Minister Albert Jacob has invited applications for funding to subsidise companies and local councils seeking to boost recycling rates for construction and demolition waste. Up to $8 million will be available to local councils, with a further $2 million available to private sector operators.

Priority will be given to purchases that involve a significant tonnage of product and that represent the lowest cost per tonne.

Applications close on 30 June 2016. For more information, click here.

 

Tenders

The SA Department of State Development has invited energy service companies to join a list of energy performance contracting service providers for the Government Building Energy Efficiency Investment program.

For more information, click here. Tenders can be submitted until 30 November 2016.

 

Other

Call for papers for AELA Conference 2016

The Australian Earth Laws Alliance has extended the deadline for abstracts for its 2016 conference until 24 June 2016. For details about the conference, “The Future of Australian environmental law: politics, reform and community activism”, click here.

 

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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!

 

(Canberra) EPBC Act approval condition setting and advanced environmental offsets

Join EIANZ ACT for a session discussing the Australian Government’s new policy positions concerning approval condition setting and advanced environmental offsets under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

When: 15 June 2016, 6:30 – 8:30pm
Where: Hotel Realm

For more information, click here.

 

(Melbourne) Australia’s Environment and Carbon Conference for Business

Hosted by the Australian Environment Business Network, and featuring a keynote address by Shadow Environment Minister, Mark Butler MP, this conference will outline a number of changes to environmental and carbon obligations for business across Australia.

When: 17 June 2016
Where: HWL Ebsworth Lawyers (530 Collins St)

For more information, click here.

 

(Perth) Global water challenges and opportunities

The Australian Water Association is hosting this interactive workshop to provide opportunities for various stakeholders to discuss innovative, entrepreneurial and holistic solutions to global water management.

When: 17 June 2016
Where: WACA

For more information, click here.

 

Leaf (Sydney) Contaminated Land seminar

The Australian Sustainable Business Group are hosting a seminar exploring the latest regulatory and policy perspectives on contaminated land management. The seminar is aimed at landowners and practitioners.

When: 22 June 2016
Where: Henry Davis York (Martin Place)

For more information, click here.

 

(Melbourne) Best practice sustainability reporting

Learn how to prepare a best-practice sustainability report that meets client needs and satisfies all regulatory obligations at this practical workshop, run by the Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility.

When: 22-23 June 2016
Where: Melbourne

For more information, click here.

 

Leaf(Hawaii) 2016 IUCN 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.

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

For more information about the 2016 Congress click here.

 

Leaf(Melbourne) 2016 NELA National Conference

When: 18 November 2016, 9:00am – 5:00pm
Where: King & Wood Mallesons, Level 50, 600 Bourke St, Melbourne.

More details to be announced soon!


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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