Policy developments and other news
Fines for herbicide contamination
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority has issued the largest fines ever under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Act 1994. Chemical company Accensi Pty Ltd was fined $100,000 for four instances of supplying contaminated herbicides that farmers alleged stunted and deformed their crops.
The company was also invited to provide an Enforceable Undertaking to manage the production and control of all herbicide products in future.
For more information, click here.
Clean Energy Regulator documents
The Clean Energy Regulator has released a corporate plan for 2017 to 2021, outlining its commitment to improving datasets for NGER and Safeguard Mechanism assessments, increasing transparency, and using data-matching to ensure compliance.
The Regulator has also issued an ERF contract delivery calculator to assist in calculating abatement delivery schedules.
NOPSEMA stakeholder report
Offshore oil and gas regulator, NOPSEMA, has released its Final report of the Stakeholder engagement and transparency work program. The report provides details of initiatives identified and actions completed under the work program as well as a summary of engagement with stakeholders.
Special waste policy
The Victorian government has declared a special waste policy mandating minimum separation distances for stockpiles of combustible wastes at waste and recycling facilitates to minimise fire risk. The policy will operate for 12 months.
The introduction of the policy follows a class action launched against recycling company SKM, alleging that its negligent storage of waste resulted in a fire at its Coolaroo plant.
Effective Planning for Population Growth
The Victorian Auditor-General's Office has released its audit report on the extent to which Victorian government services are effectively planning for the State’s anticipation population growth to 7.7 million by 2031. The report concludes that key government agencies do not fully participate in the integrated land use planning process, potentially resulting in population centres that will not be well serviced in terms of health and infrastructure needs.
To read the report, click here.
EPA Victoria Action Plan
EPA Victoria has released its action plan 2017-18, identifying the agency’s key priorities as improving PFAS and leachate management, standardising decommissioning practices, targeting illegal dumping, providing guidance on financial assurances, and developing environmental compliance resources.
To read the plan, click here.
Fracking ban and inquiry
The Western Australian government has introduced a ban on fracking in the South-West, Peel and Perth metropolitan regions, and imposed a moratorium in other parts of the State while an independent inquiry into the impacts of fracking is conducted.
The inquiry will be led by EPA chair, Tom Hatton. For more information about the inquiry, click here.
Coastal Zone Strategy
The Western Australian Planning Commission has published the WA Coastal Zone Strategy, the WA Government’s strategic response to key issues facing coastal planning and management.
For more information about the strategy, click here.
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In the courts
Adani appeal dismissed
In Australian Conservation Foundation Incorporated v Minister for the Environment and Energy  FCAFC 134 the Full Court of the Federal Court dismissed a further appeal against the Environment Minister’s decision to approve the Adani Carmichael coal mine. The appeal focused on the Minister’s failure to consider the impact of Scope 3 emissions on the World Heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef under the EPBC Act. The appeal also argued that those emissions and impacts should be regarded as a direct consequence of the decision, requiring the Minister to apply the precautionary principle in assessing the significance of the impacts.
The Full Court dismissed all grounds.
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Open for comment
Draft Commonwealth Marine Park Management Plans
Federal Environment Minister, Josh Frydenberg, has released draft management plans for 44 Commonwealth Marine reserves, and proposed that "marine reserves" be renamed "marine parks". The draft plans do not amend the management plan for South East Commonwealth Marine Reserves applying to waters around Tasmania.
The draft management plans are open for comment until 20 September 2017. For more information, click here.
PFAS Management Plan
Following the recent Environment Ministers meeting, a draft national management plan to introduce a “consistent, practical, risk-based framework for the environmental regulation of PFAS chemicals.” has been released.
Comments on the draft plan can be made until 25 September 2017. For more information, click here.
Senate Inquiry into Murray-Darling Basin water market
The Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee is conducting an inquiry into the integrity of the water market in the Murray-Darling Basin, including allegations of water theft, the actions of the government agencies, the use of environmental water for irrigation and oversight of the Water for the Environment Special Account.
Submissions can be made until 28 September 2017. For more information, click here.
Review of the Carbon Farming Initiative and Emissions Reduction Fund
The Climate Change Authority has released a consultation paper as part of a statutory review of the Emissions Reduction Fund. The paper seeks comments on all aspects of how the scheme is performing.
Comments can be made until 29 September 2017. For more information, click here.
International Solar Alliance Treaty
The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties is conducting an inquiry into the potential ratification of the Framework Agreement on the establishment of the International Solar Alliance.
Submissions to the inquiry can be made until 29 September 2017. For more information, click here.
Draft ERF soil carbon rules
The Department of Environment and Energy has released a draft new methodology for earning ERF credits from soil carbon sequestration projects. The proposed method expands the scope of projects from grazing to cropping and horticulture activities, and requires Land Management Strategies to be implemented for eligible projects.
Comments on the draft methodology can be made until 2 October 2017. For more information, click here.
Reef Water Quality Improvement Plan 2017-2022
The Queensland and Commonwealth government have released a draft Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan 2017–2022 to update of the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan 2013 and support delivery of the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan.
Comments on the draft Plan can be made until 10 October 2017. For more information, click here.
Waste and recycling industry in Australia
The Senate Environment Committee is conducting an inquiry into the waste and recycling industry in Australia, including issues related to landfill, markets for recycled waste and the role of the Australian Government in providing a coherent approach to the management of solid waste.
Submissions to the inquiry can be made until 20 October 2017. For more information, click here..
Contaminated Sites policy
The EPA is seeking feedback on a draft Contaminated Sites Environment Protection Policy. The draft policy outlines requirements for the assessment, remediation, management and audit of contaminated land and the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders in managing contaminated land.
Comments on the draft Policy can be made until 27 September 2017. For more information, click here.
Gladstone Port Master Plan
A draft master plan for the Port of Gladstone has been released for comment, the first of a series of master plans being prepared in accordance with the Sustainable Ports Development Act 2015.
Comments on the draft plan can be made until 9 October 2017. For more information, click here.
Draft Salmon Growth Plan
The Tasmanian government has released its draft Sustainable Industry Growth Plan for the Salmon Industry. The Growth Plan proposes new areas for salmon farm expansion in ocean waters, with the remainder of the State’s coasts to be declared “no grow” zones (other than existing leases).
The draft Growth Plan also outlines government plans to "encourage and manage the continued expansion of the industry", including:
- finalising a new Biosecurity Act
- creating a Finfish Farming (Compliance and Monitoring) Unit, to be funded by an industry levy
- developing a new agreement between salmon companies concerning the future of farming in Macquarie Harbour (to replace the existing Area Management Agreement)
- providing greater public access to more environmental monitoring data
- establishing a new industry reference group to advise on implementation of the Growth Plan
- moving towards offshore farming
- developing a “Tasmanian Salmon Industry Scorecard” as an industry benchmark
- competitive tender process for access to any new farming areas
The comment period for the draft Growth Plan has been extended until 29 September 2017. For more information, click here.
One of Tasmania’s three main salmon companies, Huon Aquaculture, has also released an Industry Discussion Paper and proposed an international symposium to discuss global best practice.
Major Projects Bill
The Tasmanian Government has released the Land Use Planning and Approvals Amendment (Major Projects) Draft Bill 2017, seeking to introduce a new major projects assessment process. Changes proposed by the Bill include:
- introducing a single coordinated major projects permit to address planning, environmental, Aboriginal cultural heritage, historic cultural heritage, threatened species and nature conservation issues;
- establishing project-specific expert planning panels, comprising nominees from the Tasmanian Planning Commission and other regulatory agencies;
- improving certainty by providing for early declarations of ‘no reasonable prospects’, ‘in-principle’ approvals and staged recovery of assessment fees; and
- expanding Ministerial call-in powers.
Comments on the draft Bill can be made until 2 October 2017. For more information, click here
Container Deposit Scheme Discussion Paper
The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation has released a discussion paper on the implementation of a Container Deposit Scheme in Western Australia.
Comments on the discussion paper can be made until 23 October 2017. Feedback can also be provided via an anonymous online survey. For more information, click here
Waste levy and waste management discussion paper
The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation has issued a discussion paper proposing legislative reforms to strengthen the regulatory framework for waste management. Proposals include consolidating landfill categories, amending the definition of waste disposal to expand the application of levies, introducing waste avoidance and resources recovery objectives into the Environmental Protection Act, and mandating the use of weighbridges at waste facilities.
Comments on the discussion paper can be made until 16 November 2017. For more information, click here.
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