Following the Independent review of powers and penalties under the EP Act, the Queensland Government is seeking consulting on proposed amendments to the EP Act.
- The Queensland Government has called for submissions on proposed amendments to the Environmental Protection Act
- The proposed reforms include:
- Stating clearly in the EP Act the principles that apply to its administration, including polluter pays, the precautionary principle, the principle of primacy of prevention and proportionality;
- Combining existing powers to issues notices and orders into a Environmental Enforcement Order;
- Imposing a new “duty to restore” where unlawful environmental harm is caused;
- Introducing a new offence of failing to comply with the general environmental duty;
- Expanding the duty to notify to extend to reasonable belief, rather than actual knowledge of harm.
- Consultation is open until 5pm on 10 November 2023
The Queensland Government has released a consultation paper detailed proposed amendments to the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld) (EP Act).
Following the Independent review of powers and penalties under the EP Act, Judge Jones and Ms Hedge delivered a report on 1 September 2022, making 18 recommendations for change in the law.
The proposed amendments include:
- The principles to which regard should be had in administering
the EP Act are to be stated clearly upfront, being:
- Polluter pays
- Precautionary principle
- The principle of primacy of prevention
- Principle of proportionality
- Confirming that contaminants having the characteristics of an environmental nuisance (i.e. fumes light, noise odour, particles) can be material or serious environmental harm;
- Clearly state that human health, wellbeing and safety are part of the definition of “environment” and “environmental value”
- Combining the existing powers to issue environmental protection orders, Streamlining of various notices into a new environmental enforcement order;
- Including a new “duty to restore” in the EP Act, requiring that if a person permits or causes contamination that results in environmental harm they must, as far as reasonably practicable, restore the environment to the condition it was in before the incident occurred;
- Introducing a new offence of failing to comply with the general environmental duty.
- The duty to notify is expanded to where the person reasonably believes or should in the circumstances reasonably believe that environmental harm is caused or threatened. The test currently is that the person “becomes aware” of circumstances.
For each recommendation made in the consultation paper the following questions are suggested as a basis for the response:
- Is the proposal supported as the most effective way to implement the recommendation?
- What further improvements could be made?
- Are there regulatory impacts on activities which comply with the EP Act that should be identified?
- Are there benefits to the environment, community or industry that should be further highlighted?
The Department of Environment and Science seeks written submissions to EPAct.Policy@des.qld.gov.au by 5pm on 10 November 2023.
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