Australia: Environmental policy developments: September 2003

Last Updated: 22 October 2003

Article by John Taberner, Mark Dwyer, Tim Power, Tony van Merwyk and Michael Back


National Chemicals Taskforce

The National Chemicals Taskforce (Taskforce) presented its scoping report at the May 2003 meeting of the Environment Ministers. The Taskforce, which is chaired by the New South Wales Environment Protection Agency's Director General, was commissioned by the Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) to research the issues associated with a proposal aimed at ensuring a national approach to ecologically sustainable chemical management and regulation.

Streamlining communication between the jurisdictions, coordinating the adjustment of risk management strategies, ensuring consistent implementation across the jurisdictions and improving community access to relevant information are among the key issues currently associated with ensuring a national approach to chemical management.

The Taskforce report has now been used by the Environment Ministers to establish an EPHC Working Group. The Working Group will consult with agencies, industry and the community in its effort to develop a proposal for a national environmental risk management framework for chemicals.

Approval for low-level radioactive waste repository

The Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, has given environmental approval, subject to conditions, to two possible sites for the construction of the proposed national low-level radioactive waste repository in accordance with the provisions of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. It is now up to the Minister for Science, Peter McGauran, to select a final site for this project.

The proposed repository will only accept 'low-level' and 'short-lived intermediate level' waste that meets criteria approved by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA). Low-level radioactive waste includes such things as lightly contaminated clothing and rags from hospitals and domestic smoke detectors. Intermediate level radioactive waste may include disused radiation sources from industry or hospitals, resins, chemical sludges and metal fuel cladding. An industrial radiation source containing about 20 million kBq of radioactivity would be classified as intermediate level radioactive waste. If it has a short half-life, about 30 years or less, it is called short-lived intermediate level radioactive waste and may be accepted by the repository.

Inquiry into native vegetation and biodiversity regulations

On 15 April 2003, the Federal Government initiated an inquiry into the impact of Federal, State and Territory regulations relating to native vegetation and biodiversity. The Productivity Commission, the Federal Government's principal review body on microeconomic policy, is to conduct a 12 month inquiry into the impacts of Federal, State and Territory regulations on native vegetation and biodiversity. The inquiry will examine regulatory impacts on farming practices, productivity, sustainability and property values and returns.

Environment Protection and Heritage Council meeting on 23 May 2003

Green light for water efficiency labelling

At the Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) meeting on 23 May 2003, the Federal, State and Territory Environment Ministers made an agreement to develop a national plan for mandatory water efficiency labelling of household fittings and appliances. The Ministers also agreed to investigate the introduction of minimum water efficiency standards and to review guidelines for urban water reuse and recycling as part of a coordinated national response to better utilising and conserving scarce water resources.

Currently, Australians consume more than 24,000 gigalitres of water every year-approximately 48 times the volume of Sydney Harbour, with 21 per cent of this used in urban and industrial settings. EPHC Ministers received a feasibility study on mandatory water efficiency labelling that indicates labelling and standards would encourage significant reductions in urban water consumption.

The report estimated probable water savings from labelling high water-use appliances would be 58,300 million litres per annum or 4.7 per cent of total household water consumption in Australia. This would then translate to savings for consumers of more than $300 million between now and 2016.

Funding for the water efficiency labelling scheme was also set aside by the Federal Government as part of the $40 million Sustainable Cities package announced in the 2003–04 Budget.

National action to protect our air

At the same meeting, Environment Ministers agreed to new actions to protect our air by agreeing to a new standard for fine particles, 2.5 micrometres or less in size, and making a call for comment on a proposed national approach for five toxic air pollutants known to be harmful to human health.

Federal funded research has found Australians' exposure to some toxic air pollutants depends more on lifestyle than where they live. Contrary to previously held views that motor vehicles were the most important source of personal exposure to these pollutants, it was revealed arts, crafts and woodwork-based hobbies also can lead to elevated exposure levels. The $560,000 study was funded through the Federal Government's Living Cities Air Toxics Program.

Toughened stance on plastic bags

The Environment Ministers agreed in principle to pursue nationally coordinated mandatory measures on plastic shopping bags at their July meeting. The Ministers rejected a draft industry Code of Practice for the Management of Plastic Retail Carry Bags because it failed to address targets on usage set last December. These targets had challenged retailers to meet 50 per cent recycling and reduction targets for lightweight plastic bags by the end of 2004. Meeting these targets would take about 4.5 billion bags out of circulation.

Meanwhile, the Ministers deferred consideration of proposals to expand Container Deposit Legislation across Australia until after the National Packaging Covenant expires in August 2004.

New South Wales

Regulatory review

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has published discussion papers on the mandatory review of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) in order for a report on the review process to be presented to Parliament by the end of the year. The EPA state that they have already surveyed industry, environment groups and local government on the Act and have found 'general support' for it. However, they also found that there was a need to simplify waste licensing and tracking provisions, and that there was some concern about the difficulties of interpreting the licensing schedule.

There will also be a review of the Waste Regulation, the Clean Air (Plant and Equipment) Regulation, the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 and the Environmentally Hazardous Chemicals Act 1985.

Licensing Guidelines for Sewage Treatment Systems

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) have announced some changes to the licensing guidelines for Sewage Treatment Systems. Under these new changes, licences for sewage treatment plants have been extended to cover entire sewage treatment systems, including overflows from pumping stations and reticulation systems. According to the EPA, this new licensing approach aims to minimise the potential harm to public health and the environment from the release of sewage into the environment. Sewer overflows are one of the most significant diffuse sources of water pollution in urban areas.

The EPA have published a document entitled Licensing Guidelines for Sewage Treatment Systems in order to help licensees in non-metropolitan areas, generally local councils and other water authorities, understand the new process for licensing whole sewage treatment systems. The requirements described in this document relate to sewage treatment systems other than those operated by Sydney and Hunter Water, for which a separate licensing process has been completed.

The guidelines explain:

  • what sewage treatment system licences are
  • the potential impacts of sewer overflows on public health and the environment
  • the EPA's approach to sewer overflow management
  • licensing techniques to minimise sewer overflows.

Clean Air Fund

The New South Wales Government, through the Environmental Trust's Clean Air Fund, has provided funding to local government to tackle air emissions from local industrial, commercial, residential, transport and construction-related sources. The aim is to help reduce emissions and improve air quality and health outcomes at a local level.

Successful 2003 grants were announced by the Minister for the Environment on 9 July 2003. The successful projects included:

  • Newcastle Alternative Fuels Program. This project was granted $100,000 to undertake emission tests on a selection of diesel-powered council vehicles and plant equipment to determine the results achieved from the installation of in-line diesel fuel bowser filtration units and the use of 20 per cent biodiesel.
  • Biodiesel Truck Trial: Biodiesel as an Alternative Fuel to Improve Local Air Quality in Camden. This project was granted $90,690 to conduct comparative emissions testing on two council operated garbage trucks using petrol diesel and 100 per cent biodiesel.
  • Local Domestic Air Quality Educational Resource Kit in the Illawarra Region of Councils. This project was granted $82,598 to research, design, produce and disseminate an educational Resource Kit and transportable display focusing on improving community awareness about the impact of day-to-day domestic activities on local and regional air quality.
  • The Business of Air Quality in Warringah. This project was granted $80,000 so that council and local businesses can work together to develop best practice guides to reduce air pollution from small to medium-sized enterprises.

Guidelines for seeking environmental court orders

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has also published new guidelines for seeking environmental court orders. These guidelines deal with new sentencing options available for environmental offences, including investigation costs orders, publication orders and environmental service orders. These new options were introduced into and apply in respect of offences committed against the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997. These guidelines also discuss the EPA's view of purpose behind each of the potential orders and the principles the EPA will take into account in deciding whether to seek one or more of the orders in a prosecution.


State Environment Protection Policy (Waters of Victoria)

The Victorian Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has updated and varied the State Environment Protection Policy (Waters of Victoria) 1988. The updated State Environment Protection Policy (SEPP), released in June 2003, applies to all surface water environments and provides new measures to maintain and improve water quality in order to achieve sustainable surface waters. The measures set out in the SEPP include:

  • EPA review of all licences where there is a water discharge to encourage greater avoidance and recycling
  • no new discharge licences will be approved in aquatic reserves, wetlands, lakes or estuaries and inlets or waters in areas of high conservation significance
  • environmental flows will be audited to determine their affect on aquatic life and uses of the particular water environment
  • a system for auditing discharges to surface waters from irrigation drains
  • preventing waste and pollutant discharge from boats and ships into Victorian waters
  • all marinas are required to have waste and sewerage pump facilities.

The SEPP will be primarily implemented through the Victorian catchment and coastal management processes. These processes allow regional communities to develop goverrnment-approved catchment strategies that set appropriate goals, priorities and environmental targets for catchment and coastal environments.

Approval of Scoresby freeway southern section

The Federal Minister for Environment and Heritage has granted approval for the construction of the proposed southern section of the Scoresby freeway, the subject of the Federal Court proceedings outlined in the May 2003 edition of Environment Quarterly. The Minister noted that should the Victorian Government subsequently consider constructing a freeway link, this link would affect matters of national environmental significance and the proposal would need to be referred under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity and Conservation Act 1999 (Cth).

Cleaner production for small to medium sized enterprises

The Victorian Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has developed a set of 11 guidelines concerning good practice for cleaner production in small to medium sized enterprises. The guidelines, which apply to various business situations, help to identify methods of improving business environmental performance while reducing production costs and increasing productivity.

Improving the planning system in Victoria

The Department of Sustainability and Environment has introduced a discussion paper Better Decisions Faster (August 2003) outlining a series of process improvements to the planning system. The proposals include pre-lodgment certification of planning applications. Introduced on 15 May 2003, this new process allows for Victorian permit applicants to obtain pre-lodgment certification, that is, written confirmation that an application is of a suitable standard to proceed to Council. Other proposals include a new comprehensive application form, more precise notice and referral requirements, the possibility of self assessment or short-permit processes, and a review of enforcement and the use of section 173 agreements. To view the discussion paper,. click here.

Victorian Regulation Alert 2003–04

The Victorian Regulation Alert is a guide which details Victorian regulations that are due to sunset over the next financial year. Those sunsetting regulations identified under the Department of Sustainability and Environment include:

  • Surveyors (Fees) Regulations 1992
  • Subdivision (Registrar's Fees) Regulations 1993
  • Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (Area for Special Rate) Regulations 1993
  • Royal Botanic Gardens Regulations 1994
  • Fire Protection Regulations 1992.

Victorian Water Trust

The Victorian Government has established the Victorian Water Trust to provide funding for investment in Victoria's water resources. The $320 million trust will fund innovative projects that deliver on the four major targets of the Government's Water for the Future Policy.

The Trust aims to enhance the health and sustainability of Victoria's water resources, encourage the increased re-use and recycling of water and improve efficiencies in the use of water across the State.

The Victorian Water Trust Advisory Council will help to manage the Trust, develop its operating principles and guidelines and make recommendations on projects to be considered for funding.

Funding for salinity and water quality projects

The Federal and Victorian Governments will jointly fund 19 multi-regional resource management projects aimed at tackling salinity and water quality in six priority catchment management authority regions in Victoria: Glenelg-Hopkins, Corangamite, North Central, Goulburn-Broken, Mallee and Wimmera. The projects will collect data on the impacts of rising salinity on biodiversity and promote tools to predict the outcomes of decisions on land use and resource management.

The $7.25 million in funding is provided under the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality bilateral agreement signed between the Federal and State Governments in October 2001.

Green wedge provisions

The Department of Sustainability and Environment has published the advisory note titled Understanding the green wedge provisions to provide information and advice on the Planning and Environment (Metropolitan Green Wedge Protection) Act 2003 and the core planning provisions for metropolitan green wedge land contained in the 17 metropolitan fringe planning schemes affected by the Act.

Amendment VC19 to the Victorian Planning Provisions

Amendment VC19, gazetted on 24 July 2003, is an important amendment to the Victorian Planning Provisions. Among other things, the amendment reflects the restructuring of the Department of Infrastructure and Sustainability and Environment. The amendment updates the State Planning Policy framework by giving effect to the Victorian Coastal Strategy, the native vegetation 'net gain' principles in Victoria's Biodiversity Strategy and includes other amendments relating to native vegetation removal.


Draft Environmental Protection Legislation Amendment Bill 2003

The Environment Protection Authority and the Department of Local Government and Planning have issued a draft Environmental Protection Legislation Amendment Bill 2003 (Qld) that proposes a number of amendments to the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld) (EP Act) and the Integrated Planning Act 1997 (Qld).

The amendments include:

  • simplifying approvals under the EP Act to create one type of approval for all environmentally relevant activities (ERAs) and one approval process
  • introducing a registration system to simplify the assessment of an operator's suitability to carry out an ERA
  • establishing a system of 'codes of environmental compliance' for certain ERAs
  • streamlining the assessment and referral arrangements for contaminated land management.

Burnett Basin resource operations plan approved

The first of 20 regional resource operations plans (ROPs) has been approved by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines providing a blueprint for the management of water resources and water allocations within Queensland.

The Burnett Basin is one of the largest in South-East Queensland, covering some 38,370 square kilometres, and includes the catchments of the Burnett, Kolan, Isis, Gregory and Elliott Rivers.

The ROP provides for 1,688 tradable water allocations to be issued to local water users. Water allocations titles will be held on the Water Allocations Register and the owners of these titles will be able to transfer, relocate, amalgamate or subdivide their allocations under the ROP.

However, any water trade agreement entered into between two parties will be subject to approval from the Department of Natural Resources and Mines to protect the rights of others and the environment.

Coastal Management Plan

The draft Coastal Management Plan for the Wet Tropical Coast (Plan) was released for public comment until 16 May 2003 and will now be reviewed prior to the final release. The Plan follows the format outlined by the State Coastal Management Plan, which has now been adopted by a number of other regional coastal management plans.

The Plan addresses issues with respect to the long term management of the Wet Tropical Coast, which includes both the Wet Tropics and Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Areas.

Draft reef water quality protection plan

The Federal and Queensland Governments have released a draft reef water quality protection plan (Reef Plan) that aims to stop the decline in the quality of water entering the Great Barrier Reef and reverse existing impacts caused by poor quality water runoff.

Following scientific reports indicating that land based run off is damaging the Great Barrier Reef, the Reef Plan focuses on diffuse sources of pollution such as sediment and nutrients.

Many of the initiatives proposed under the Reef Plan will be supported by the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality and the Natural Heritage Trust Program.

The Reef Plan, which was open for public submissions until 14 July 2003, will now be reviewed prior to its final release.

Environmental initiatives: 2003–04 Budget

The Queensland Budget for 2003–04 includes $412 million for managing Queensland's natural resources. The Queensland Government's environment initiatives include:

  • $75 million over five years as part of a $150 million Federal-State tree clearing reduction package. The proposed package includes $130 million in financial incentives to assist land-holders with the transition, or for exit assistance if necessary, $12 million in incentives to improve the management of more valuable remnant vegetation and $8 million to develop best practice for farm management
  • $8 million over four years to support increased assessment, monitoring and enforcement of legislation concerning vegetation, water and land resources and pests
  • $3.2 million to improve the quality and safety of certain Queensland dams and weirs. This includes $700,000 for capital improvements to existing water infrastructure assets and $2.5 million over four years for maintenance work on a number of small dams and weirs
  • $3.5 million over four years to fund the introduction and implementation of Queensland's Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2002 and the Torres Strait Islander Cultural Heritage Bill 2002 (Qld)
  • $1.78 million for the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative to support more bore capping, bore rehabilitation and bore drain replacement projects.

Gulf Water Resource Plan to be prepared

The Minister for Natural Resources and Mines has announced the Department's intention to prepare a Water Resource Plan (WRP) for the Gulf region. Mt Isa, Burketown, Cloncurry, Normanton, Richmond, Hughenden, Croydon and Georgetown are among the towns in the

area to be covered by the WRP.

A moratorium has been placed on applications to take or interfere with water other than artesian reserves in the WRP area, and on building works to take overland flow water, while the planning process is being conducted. The moratorium does not apply to taking water for domestic or stock watering purposes or to certain developments associated with urban supplies and the mining industry.

Merger of environmental enforcement units

The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) has merged with the Environment Protection Authority's (EPA) Environmental Operations Division. The merging of the two units was designed to allow the grouping of agency skills in the areas of investigation and enforcement under the range of Acts that are currently administered and enforced by the EPA.

Natural Resources Peak Council

The Queensland Government has established the Natural Resources Peak Council (Council) to strengthen the partnership between government, industry and communities in the management of natural resources.

The Council will facilitate discussion by stakeholder organisations, State and national strategic policy issues affecting natural resource management in Queensland, including by providing a forum for stakeholders to provide input to the Minister on policy development.

State Interest Planning Policy: State forests, timber reserves and forest reserves in planning schemes

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA), in conjunction with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, have released a State Interest Planning Policy for State forests, timber resources and forest reserves in planning schemes (Policy). The aim of the Policy is 'to ensure that State forests, timber reserves and forest reserves … are addressed in local government planning schemes in ways that recognise the multiple environmental, social and economic uses and values of such reserves'.

A supporting guideline, Planning for land use and development near or adjoining State forests, timber reserves and forest reserves, has also been published by the EPA. It provides planning advice to prevent or minimise potential conflicts between lawful activities within the above reserves, and incompatible land uses and activities adjoining or near these areas.

State rural leasehold land strategy: March 2003

The Department of Natural Resources and Mines released a draft State rural leasehold land strategy (Strategy) for public comment. The Strategy is designed to provide a policy framework for achieving sustainable management and use of State rural leasehold land.

The Strategy will apply to perpetual leases, pastoral holdings, term leases and special leases, but will not affect licences or permits.

The Strategy, which was open for public submissions until 2 June 2003, will now be reviewed before the final version is released.

Vegetation management plans

An additional six draft regional vegetation management plans (RVMPs) were recently released for public comment during June. These include three RVMPs for regions within Central-West Queensland and three RVMPs for regions within South-West Queensland.

The RVMPs will now be reviewed in light of any submissions made prior to being finalised. Eventually, a total of 24 RVMPs will be prepared to ensure that native vegetation in Queensland is effectively managed.

Western Australia

EPA draft Guidance Statement No. 55: best practice

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has released for comment draft Guidance Statement No. 55 entitled Implementing the best practice in proposals submitted to the environment impact assessment process (GS55). GS55 proposes that new proposals or significant expansions of existing projects should address sustainability as a key strategy goal. Through the environmental approval process, proponents will be required to demonstrate 'best practice', and that cumulative environmental impacts are acceptable.'Best practice' is based on the principle that there is no justification for unnecessary waste discharges or degradation of the environment, even where an environmental standard is not exceeded. If approved, GS55 will require proponents to:

  • meet all relevant environmental quality standards
  • adopt best practicable measures to control common pollutants
  • control hazardous pollutants to the maximum extent achievable
  • consider improving the environment through rehabilitation and offsets where practicable.

The draft statement does, however, qualify these requirements:

  • there may be circumstances where the EPA accepts that the adoption of best practice is not required
  • best practice measures may not be practicable in particular circumstances of energy efficiency, small quantity of discharge, high cost, minor degree of impact on the environment and, in general, a risk weighted consideration of consequences
  • the EPA may not impose approval processes where such imposition would unreasonably deter proponents of projects that involve small sources of impacts and where the proponent has made reasonable endeavours to meet the principles of best practice in good faith.

Copies of the draft Guidance Statement are available here.

Western Australian Planning Commission's Statement of Planning Policy No. 2: Environmental and Natural Resources Policy

On 10 June 2003 the Western Australian Planning Commission published its Environmental and Natural Resources Policy No. 2 (Policy) (GG p 2045 of 2003). The Policy defines the principles and considerations for natural resource planning within the framework of the Western Australian State Planning Strategy. The objectives of the Policy are directed towards meeting the requirements for sustainability, and include:

  • to integrate environment and natural resource management with broader land use planning and decision-making
  • to protect, conserve and enhance the natural environment, and
  • to promote and assist in the wise and sustainable use and management of natural resources.
  • The Policy will be implemented through the preparation of strategic plans, regional and local statutory schemes, conservation and management strategies. Local governments and State agencies will incorporate the policy measures in their decision-making.

A copy of the Policy is available. here.

Western Australian Planning Commission's Statement of Planning Policy No. 2.6: State Coastal Planning Policy

On 10 June 2003 the Western Australian Planning Commission declared its State Coastal Planning Policy No. 2.6 (Policy) (GG p 2059 of 2003). The Policy is primarily concerned with coastal planning and preservation. Its objectives are to:

  • protect, conserve and enhance coastal values, particularly in areas of landscape, nature conservation, indigenous and cultural significance
  • provide for public foreshore areas, and access to these areas on the coast
  • ensure the identification of appropriate areas for the sustainable use of the coast for housing, tourism, recreation, ocean access, maritime industry, commercial and other activities, and
  • ensure that the location of coastal facilities and development takes into account coastal processes including erosion, accretion, storm surge, tides, wave conditions, sea level change and biophysical criteria.

The Policy applies to coastal areas throughout Western Australia, including:

  • coastal seabed, reefs, rocky outcrops and headlands, beaches, foreshores, dunal systems, mangroves, wetlands and flats subject to sea action and coastal processes
  • nearshore marine waters
  • all islands within the State lying seawards of the mainland, and
  • land use and development abutting the coast, but not including estuaries that are predominantly riverine in character.

Implementation will be through the preparation of strategic plans, regional and local statutory schemes, conservation and management strategies, and other relevant plans to achieve the objectives of the Policy. Local governments and State agencies will take account of these policy measures in their decision-making.

The State Coastal Planning Policy recognises the coastal threats and pressures identified in the West Australian Government's draft Coastal Zone Management Policy for Western Australia (2001), and is consistent with its objectives, strategies and plans for the coast. It also consistent with the Environment and Natural Resources Policy.

A copy of the Policy is available here.

Western Australian Planning Commission's Statement of Planning Policy No. 2.7: Public Drinking Water Source Policy

On 10 June 2003 the Western Australian Planning Commission declared its Public Drinking Water Source Policy No. 2.7 (Policy) (GG p 2075 of 2003). Existing and future drinking water sources are protected by the declaration of Underground Water Pollution Control Areas (UWPCA), Water Reserves and Catchment Areas under the Metropolitan Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage Act 1909 and the Country Areas Water Supply Act 1947. These are collectively known as Public Drinking Water Source Areas (PDWSA).

This Policy applies to proclaimed PDWSA throughout Western Australia. The objective of the Policy is to ensure that land use and development within PDWSA is compatible with the protection and long-term management of water resources for public water supply.

Implementation will be through the preparation of strategic plans, regional and local statutory schemes, conservation and management strategies, and other relevant plans to achieve the objectives of the Policy. Local governments and State agencies will take account of these Policy measures in their decision-making. The Policy is consistent with and complementary to the Environment and Natural Resources Policy (summarised above) and should be read and applied within that context.

A copy of the Policy can be found at the Western Australian Planning Commission's website.

South Australia

Environment Protection (Water Quality) Policy 2003

The South Australian Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has released the Environment Protection (Water Quality) Policy 2003 (Policy) under the Environment Protection Act 1993. The Policy aims to achieve the sustainable management of waters by protecting and enhancing water quality. It applies to all inland surface ground waters and marine waters, and provides environmental values and water quality objectives for stream, rivers, oceans and groundwater. The Policy aims to bring South Australia in line with the National Water Quality Management Strategy by stipulating:

  • water quality objectives
  • management and control of point and diffuse sources of pollution
  • obligations relating to particular activities
  • water quality criteria, discharge limits and listed pollutants.

Mandatory obligations and requirements for water quality management are imposed by the policy. The Policy aims to provide a consistent State-wide approach to managing water quality and ensuring all industries operate under uniform conditions.

The Policy revokes the Environment Protection (Marine) Policy 1994, the Environment Protection (Milking Shed Effluent Management) Policy 1997 and the Environment Protection (Vessels on Inland Waters) Policy 1998. The South Australian EPA has in their place released the Code of Practice for Milking Shed Effluent and Code of Practice for Vessels on Inland Water which will come into operation in conjunction with the Policy on October 2003.

$25.5 million for environmental projects in South Australia

The Federal and South Australian Governments will jointly fund 69 projects focused on natural resource management and biodiversity across regional South Australia. An investment package of $25.5 million will be provided over the next 12 months through the Natural Heritage Trust to various projects including:

  • $135,000 to conserve the black-eared miner, one of Australia's most endangered birds
  • $350,000 for environmental and resource management by lower south-east land holders
  • $500,000 in foundation funding for Eyre Peninsula, Rangelands and Aboriginal Managed Lands to develop regional natural resource management plans and investment strategies.

The funding follows the recent signing of the Bilateral Agreement which triggers Federal and State Government funding for South Australia in the second phase of the $2.7 billion Natural Heritage Trust program. Under the agreement, the Federal Government will provide $12.7 million for the projects.

Reform of the South Australian planning system

The South Australian Government has allocated $1.6 million in funding over the next three years to improve the State's planning system to ensure greater certainty and faster processing of applications.

$800,000 has been allocated to improve Development Plans prepared under the Development Act 1993, and to standardise policies across Councils. The remaining $800,000 has been provided to streamline the processing of Plan Amendment Reports through a new electronic workflow system, to standardise the process of transfer of documentation and allow for information to be transferred electronically.

Extractive Industries Planning Bulletin

Planning South Australia has released the Planning Bulletin — Extractive Industries to highlight policy issues associated with extractive industries and to assist Councils in preparing Development Plan policies. The Bulletin encourages the integration of mineral resource planning into development assessment systems and promotes consistency between Councils in the protection of strategically important mineral resources.

Green Print SA

The South Australian Government has released a publication titled Green Print SA which outlines the environmental issues facing the State and the policy directions and initiatives being used to address them.

Draft Natural Resources Management Bill

Minister for Environment and Conservation, John Hill, has released the draft Natural Resources Management Bill for community consultation.

The draft Bill proposes to implement an integrated system to achieve ecologically sustainable development in South Australia. The draft Bill promotes protection and the sustainable and integrated management of the State's natural resources. The draft Bill proposes to establish:

  • a Natural Resources Management (NRM) Council to provide advice to the South Australian Government
  • eight regional NRM Boards to manage regional issues
  • sub-regional NRM groups with responsibilities for local resource management.

The draft Bill proposes to repeal the Animal and Plant Control (Agricultural Protection and Other Purposes) Act 1986, the Soil Conservation and Land Care Act 1989 and the Water Resources Act 1997. Submissions on the draft Bill closed on 15 August 2003.

Wind Farms Plan Amendment Report

The South Australian Government has given final approval for a new Plan Amendment Report (PAR) to guide the assessment of wind farm proposals across the State. The Wind Farms PAR was introduced last year under 12 months interim operation as part of the Planning for Wind Farms package and has been amended following the public consultation period. The PAR applies to all development plans throughout the State and provides a broad policy direction that reinforces the importance of the development of renewable energy facilities in appropriate locations.

Parklands 2036

The South Australian Government has released Parklands 2036, a blueprint for the future of Adelaide's open space. Parklands 2036 is a new open space strategy that unites new and existing open space programs to set a clear vision for the future development and preservation of a second generation for Adelaide's Metropolitan Open Space System. As part of the strategy a number of open space initiatives will be undertaken in the next 33 years to provide a network of natural areas, conservation lands, working agricultural landscapes and other green spaces. The strategy will also set priorities for Adelaide's first and second generation parkland system to ensure an organised and manageable approach to open space.


Litter Act review

The Environment Division of the Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment (DPIWE) has prepared an Issues and Options Paper (Paper) to address the need for review of the Litter Act 1973 (Tas). The Paper notes that the current legislation does not provide strategic solutions for litter prevention and that there have been relatively few prosecutions under the Act.

The Paper proposes alterations to the definition of litter, increased fines for littering and the introduction of new methods of enforcement, including litter infringement notices and litter abatement notices.

The Paper also raises for consideration other issues which include imposing restrictions on the large scale release of balloons, measures for dealing with plastic bags and the extension of land and product stewardship to litter.

Among the solutions proposed by the Paper are amendments to the Litter Act 1973 (Tas), the inclusion of a new part in the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 (Tas) to deal with littering, a new Environmental Protection Policy or the creation of entirely new litter control legislation.

The DPIWE is currently seeking feedback on the Paper to assist in formulating a new approach to litter regulation in Tasmania. Public submissions closed on 18 August 2003.

Water recycling guidelines

The Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment (DPIWE) has released new Environmental Guidelines for the Use of Recycled Water (Guidelines) to provide an appropriate benchmark for designing and assessing the environmental impacts of water recycling projects.

The Guidelines replace the June 1995 Guidelines for the Re-use of Wastewater in Tasmania and are designed to be consistent with the State Policy on Water Quality Management 1997.

The Guidelines have been prepared for environmental managers, consultants, wastewater producers and end users such as farmers and will facilitate the use of recycled water for the irrigation of agricultural land. Under the Guidelines, a wide range of end uses are available for recycled water, including domestic gardening and broad acre agriculture.

Vegetation protection regulations

New regulations have been announced by the Tasmanian Government to prevent the clearance of over 100,000 hectares of rare and endangered forest communities and around 40,000 hectares of threatened non-forest communities.

The new regulations will use the Tasmanian Forest Practise System (System) to ensure strengthened protection of these vulnerable communities. The System, established under the Forest Practises Act 1985 (Tas), is administered by the Tasmanian Forest Practises Board and requires the development of Forest Practise Plans through which vulnerable communities can be effectively managed.

Nature conservation guidelines

The Tasmanian Government has indicated in principle, support for the recommendations put forward in the final report on Tasmanian's 2002–06 Nature Conservation Strategy (Strategy).

The report, prepared over the last two years by the State Biodiversity Committee, makes 64 recommendations as part of an action plan to protect natural diversity and maintain ecological processes in Tasmania. Seventeen of the recommendations have been identified by the Tasmanian Government as being of high priority. The Government also indicated that current policy and programs were also addressing a number of the issues raised.

Draft landfill code of practice

The Waste Management Branch of the Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment (DPIWE) has prepared a draft sustainability code of practise for landfilling in Tasmania. The guide deals with landfill siting and planning, design, operation and rehabilitation and after care.

It adopts the objective of ensuring effective avoidance and diversion of waste through utilising a hierarchy of waste management options starting with avoidance, followed by reuse, recycling, recovery of energy and disposal.

The draft was released in June 2003 for public consultation. When finalised, it will supersede the 1996 draft Tasmanian Landfill Code of Practice which has often been referred to in assessment processes and in permit conditions with respect to landfilling in Tasmania.

Northern Territory

Draft Environment Protection (Site Contamination) Objective Proposal

The Minister for the Environment and Heritage has released a proposal for the preparation of a draft Environment Protection (Site Contamination) Objective (Objective). The proposed Objective prescribes rules for preventing, identifying, assessing and managing site contamination in order to reduce the risk of impact of site contamination on the environment and the public. The Objective proposes to apply to all sites in the Northern Territory that may have been contaminated, and where that contamination may pose a threat to the environment, human health or the beneficial uses of the land. Sites recognised as requiring specialised forms of management will be exempt from the provisions.

Public submissions on the proposed Objective, prepared pursuant to section 19 of the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act 1998, closed on 1 August 2003.

Litchfield Planning Scheme amendments

Submissions on the proposed amendments to the Litchfield Planning Concepts and Land Use Objectives 2002 and the Litchfield Plan 1992 closed on 23 June 2003. The proposed amendments relate to the Humpty Doo District Centre and road networks in the locality.

Australian Capital Territory

Recreation Framework Discussion Paper

The Recreation Framework Discussion Paper produced by the Department of Urban Services outlines the five year recreation strategy that is being developed for the non-urban natural areas of the ACT. The strategy will provide guidance for the recovery, restoration and redevelopment of the recreation facilities destroyed and damaged in the January 2003 bushfires. The strategy is designed to complement existing, and future, management plans in managing recreation needs and impacts including the National Capital Plan and the Territory Plan.

This article provides a summary only of the subject matter covered, without the assumption of a duty of care by Freehills. The summary is not intended to be nor should it be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other professional advice.

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