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September 2017 Bulletin

 

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This month


NELA news and events
01. Compliance, Enforcement and Emerging Risk in Environmental Law
02. NELA AGM
03. SA EPA Board nominations
04. NELA Essay Competition
05. Frontiers of Environmental Law Colloquium
06. Membership

 
Law and policy developments

08. In the Legislature
09. Policy developments and other news
10. In the courts
11. Open for comment
12. Opportunities

 
Events

13. (Canberra) Environmental philanthropy meets Parliament
14. (Canberra) Adapting our cities to sea-level rise
15. (Melbourne) Changes to environmental compliance, energy supply, climate policies and new funding
16. (Melbourne) Defining resilience: Implications for property
17. (Perth) Water Resources Law workshop
18. (Hobart) Consultants Beware: Managing risk in a changing legislative landscape
19. Renewables reinvention – global green shift?
20. (Sydney) National Energy Summit: Can We Solve the Crisis?
21. (Perth) Carbon Budgets and the Law seminar
22. (Canberra) ANU Energy Update
23. Header (Hobart) Frontiers of Environmental Law Colloquium
24. (Hobart) Imagining a Different Future: Overcoming Barriers to Climate Justice

 


NELA News & Events

Compliance, Enforcement and Emerging Risk in Environmental Law

Thank you to everyone who attended the wonderful NELA WA State Conference in Perth on 1 September 2017 – we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!

A summary of the conference, presentations and papers will be available on our website soon.

 

NELA AGM

NELA’s Annual General Meeting will be held by teleconference at 1pm on 28 September 2017. All members are encouraged to nominate for director positions, and to attend the conference or nominate a proxy for voting purposes. Relevant papers will be sent to all current members this week.

2016-2017 has been a good year for NELA, and we’re keen to continue that into 2017-2018. Get involved and help maintain the momentum for good environmental governance!

 

SA EPA Board nominations

The South Australian Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation has invited NELA to put forward names of members or others interested in joining the board of the South Australian EPA.  Follow these links for information about the work of the EPA Board, and the expertise required.

If you are interested in seeking nomination for an EPA Board role, please send an expression of interest addressing the expertise requirements to secretariat@nela.org.au by 15 September 2017

 

NELA Essay Competition

The NELA Essay Competition is now open, seeking essays from undergraduate and postgraduate students at Australian universities.  Essays can address any contemporary issue facing Australian environmental law and must be submitted by 18 December 2017

For guidelines and submission details, click here.

 

Frontiers of Environmental Law Colloquium

The fourth annual Frontiers of Environmental Law colloquium will be held on 6 – 7 February 2018 in Hobart.  Supported by NELA, the Law Futures Centre of Griffith University and the University of Tasmania, Faculty of Law, the colloquium brings together academic teachers and researchers to share ideas, research and teaching practices in the diverse, multi-disciplinary field of environmental law.

The colloquium is scheduled before the global conference, Imagining a Different Future: Overcoming Barriers to Climate Justice, to be held at UTAS on 8-9 February 2018.

To find out more or submit an abstract, click here.

 

Membership

Have you renewed your NELA membership yet? By renewing your membership for 2017-2018, you can help us to keep delivering great events and publications, having a say on national and international environmental decision-making, and facilitating debate on key environmental law issues. 

To join or renew, click here.

 

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Law and policy development

Commonwealth

Product Emissions Standards Bill 2017

This Bill and related legislation seeks to implement emissions standards for various engines and equipment agreed to at the recent Environment Ministers meeting. The Bill affects leaf blowers, lawnmowers, chainsaws and brush cutters, and marine engines such as outboards and personal water crafts.

 

Australian Capital Territory

Tree Protection Bill introduced

The Tree Protection Amendment Bill 2017 proposes a series of amendments to the Tree Protection Act 2005, following recent decisions of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal. The Bill amends the merits review provisions and provides discretion to the Conservator of Flora and Fauna to cancel the registration of a protected tree where the tree has died of natural causes.

 

Amendments to Planning and Development Act

The Planning and Development Amendment Bill 2017 proposes a range of amendments, including allowing proponent to apply for an environmental significance opinion to reduce impact assessment requirements, introducing a planning assessment framework for the storage of hazardous materials, and requiring all draft territory plan variations to be referred to the Assembly’s Planning Committee for decision.

 

New South Wales

Biodiversity legislation commences

The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BC Act) and amendments to the Local Land Services Act 2013 (LLS Act) commenced on 25 August 2017. 

The BC Act, which establishes a new regulatory framework for assessing and offsetting biodiversity impacts on proposed developments, replaces the Threatened Species Conservation Act, Nature Conservation Trust Act and parts of the National Parks and Wildlife Act. The amendment to the LLS Act repeals the Native Vegetation Act 2003

The NSW government is continuing work on additional tools and products to support implementation of the package.  For more information, click here.

 

Grasslands Assessment method gazetted

The NSW Government has gazetted an Interim Grasslands and other Groundcover Assessment Method for determining the conservation value of grasslands and groundcover vegetation, providing for low, medium and high value assessments.

The determined conservation value will affect the application of the land management framework under the Local Land Services Act 2013.

 

Regulations take effect

The following regulations took effect on 1 September 2017:

 

Queensland

New laws address land access, water quality and availability

The Queensland Government has introduced the Mineral, Water and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 proposing amendments to procedures for negotiations between land owners and mining companies, requiring regard to be had to climate change in settling water plans, and providing emergency powers to deal with water contamination issues.

Parliament has referred the bill to the Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources Committee for inquiry.

Waste Reduction and Recycling Bill

Following a positive report from the Agriculture and Environment Committee, the Waste Reduction and Recycling Amendment Bill 2017 was passed on 5 September 2017.  The Bill will introduce a ban on lightweight plastic bags, a container deposit scheme, and enable greater control of recycled resources.

The new laws will take effect on 1 July 2018. For more information, click here.

 

Tasmania

Regional Forest Agreement extended

On 18 August 2017, the Tasmanian and Federal governments signed a variation to the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement to extend its operation by 20 years, with a rolling series of 5 year extensions to be effected after that period. The Tasmanian RFA is the first to be rolled over, with other RFAs due to expire over the coming 2 years.

Under the extended RFA, forestry operations in Tasmania, including harvesting of special species timbers from within reserve areas, will not be subject to the EPBC Act.

To read more, click here.

 

Victoria

Renewables targets to be legislated

The Victorian government has introduced the Renewable Energy (Jobs and Investment) Bill 2017, seeking to implement the announced State target of sourcing 25% of its electricity from renewables by 2020, and 40% by 2025.

As part of its commitment to achieving the targets, the government intends to conduct its first renewable energy reverse auction in October. The auction will award contracts for up to 550MW of new, technology-neutral renewable energy generation, with an additional 100MW to be sourced from large-scale solar projects.

 

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Policy developments and other news

Commonwealth

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.

 

Victoria

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.

 

Western Australia

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

Queensland

Adani appeal dismissed

In Australian Conservation Foundation Incorporated v Minister for the Environment and Energy [2017] 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

Commonwealth

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..

 

ACT

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.

 

Queensland

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.

 

Tasmania

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

 

Western Australia

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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Opportunities

International

The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) offers free online courses to the public. Several on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, climate change issues and conflict resolution may be of interest to environmental lawyers.

 

EDO NT – Principal Lawyer

EDO Northern Territory is seeking a Principal Lawyer / Executive Officer to run the small, but active, public interest environmental legal service.

Applications close 12 September 2017.   For more information about the role, 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) Environmental philanthropy meets Parliament 

A panel of environmental funders will share their insights on environmental philanthropy and investment at this free breakfast event. Learn more about the motivations and challenges of environmental philanthropy and how government and philanthropy could work together more effectively.

Minister for the Environment and Energy, Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, has also been invited to address the audience.

When: 12 September 2017, 7am

Where: National Ballroom 4, Parliament House

For more information, click here.

 

(Canberra) Adapting our cities to sea-level rise 

Hear from international expert on coastal adaptation, Adam Parris, and Lake Macquarie Council Manager of Integrated Planning, Sharon Pope, on the different practical and policy approaches needed to respond to rising sea levels. This event is hosted by ANU Climate Change Institute

When: 12 September 2017, 6:00pm

Where: Finkel Lecture Theatre, 131 Garran Road, ANU

For more information, click here.

 

(Melbourne) Changes to environmental compliance, energy supply, climate policies and new funding 

The Australian Environment Business Network and HWL Ebsworth Lawyers are hosting a seminar to provide details of recent changes to environmental and carbon laws and policies at Commonwealth and State levels across Australia. The event will be followed by networking drinks.

When: 14 September 2017, 8:45am

Where: HWL Ebsworth Lawyers, Seminar Room, L26, 530 Collins Street Melbourne.

For more information, click here.

 

(Melbourne) Defining resilience: Implications for property 

Join the Property Council for a discussion of climate and social challenges affecting buildings and how the property sector can improve the resilience of building stock. 

When: 19 September 2017, 4:00pm

Where: King & Wood Mallesons Level 50, Bourke Place, 600 Bourke Street

For more information, click here.

 

(Perth) Water Resources Law workshop

This three-day workshop, held at the University of Western Australia Law School, will provide an intensive course of study on Water Resources Law.

When: 27-29 September 2017

Where: University of Western Australia

For more information, click here.

 

(Hobart) Consultants Beware: Managing risk in a changing legislative landscape

Join Page Seager’s legal experts for a discussion of recent legislative changes (including major reforms in planning, mining and aquaculture), the risks for consultants and how those risks can be managed.

This seminar is aimed at consultants who advise clients on all aspects of projects and developments in Tasmania.

When: 28 September 2017, 7:15am

Where: Page Seager Lawyers Boardroom, Level 2, 179 Murray Street

For more information, click here

 

Renewables reinvention – global green shift? 

What does a renewable energy future look like? Join Emma Herd (CEO, Investor Group on Climate Change), Prof John Matthews and Prof Tony Vassallo at this Sydney Ideas event looking at options for renewable reinvention and a global green shift to kick our fossil fuel habit.

When: 29 September 2017, 6:00pm

Where: Law School Foyer, University of Sydney

For more information, click here.

 

(Sydney) National Energy Summit: Can We Solve the Crisis?

The Australian Financial Review in association with Deloitte are pleased to announce the inaugural National Energy Summit, featuring keynote presentations from Minister for the Environment and Energy, Hon Josh Frydenberg, and Andrew Vesey, Managing Director & CEO of AGL

When: 9-10 October 2017

Where: Sofitel Wentworth, Sydney

For program and registration details, click here.

 

(Perth) Carbon Budgets and the Law seminar

This seminar, hosted by EDO WA and UWA’s Centre for Mining Energy and Natural Resources Law, will provide an opportunity to hear from experienced speakers on the concept of the carbon budget and its legal implications.

When: 10 October 2017

Where: University of Western Australia

For more information, click here.

 

(Canberra) ANU Energy Update

The Energy Change Institute summit brings together energy researchers, policymakers, industry experts, including Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, to provide an overview of the latest world energy trends. 

When: 29 November 2017

Where: Copland Lecture Theatre, Kingsley Street, ANU

For more information, click here.

 

(Hobart) Frontiers of Environmental Law Colloquium

The fourth annual Frontiers of Environmental Law colloquium brings together academic teachers and researchers to share ideas, research and teaching practices in the diverse, multi-disciplinary field of environmental law.

When: 6-7 February 2018

Where: UTAS, Hobart

The colloquium is sponsored by NELA, the Law Futures Centre of Griffith University and the University of Tasmania, Faculty of Law. To find out more, click here.

 

(Hobart) Imagining a Different Future: Overcoming Barriers to Climate Justice

The University of Tasmania is hosting a global, multidisciplinary conference examining the barriers to responding to climate change, implementing climate justice, and proposing ways forward.

When: 8-9 February 2017

Where: University of Tasmania

For more information, click here.

 

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The NELA Bulletin is researched and written entirely by volunteers.
This month, we thank the following contributors:

  • Jess Feehely - editor
  • Hanna Jaireth – contributor, international, Cth and ACT
  • Rosie Phillips – contributor, WA
  • Sarah Wilson – contributor, Tas
  • Natasha Hammond – contributor, NSW