19 September, 2011

Sustainable Business Weekly QLD Edition [Flood Mitigation & PRW, Transitional Environment Programs, Carbon tax]

Flood Mitigation and Purified recycled Water

The Commission of Inquiry delivered the interim report on 1 August 2011, covering matters associated with flood preparedness to enable early recommendations to be implemented before next summer's wet season. The final report will be delivered on 24 February 2012.

The Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) has been instructed to arrange an investigation (in conjunction with relevant agencies) into the preferred options to increase the mitigation of floods downstream of Wivenhoe Dam.

This includes the ridiculously expensive consideration of raising of the Wivenhoe Dam wall to increase the flood storage compartment.

There is still no rationale consideration of the use of purified recycled water, in order to lower the required water supply level (thus increasing the flood storage volume). The Qld State Government persists with a policy to introduce purified recycled water only in the unlikely event of the combined dam levels falling below a 40% trigger level.

The Qld Flood inquiry has resumed in Brisbane today for a second round of public hearings.

Transitional Environmental Programs

One of the things that will be under the scrutiny of the Qld floods commission is the release of water from mines during the January floods.

Transitional environmental programs (TEPs) approved by the department allow a mine site to complete actions outside of its agreed environmental authority conditions. The program is in place for a specified time and requires adherence to special conditions, to ensure that any actions, such as dewatering, do not harm the environment.

The department has recently developed a guideline to provide greater clarity around TEP assessment for both industry and departmental officers. The document outlines what requirements need to be fulfilled before a draft TEP will be approved by DERM. The guide has been published on DERM's website as part of a commitment towards ensuring industry understands departmental requirements and expectations.

Carbon Tax

This week the Federal Government introduced the first Bills that will create a price on carbon. The price itself will always be too high for those who are liable to pay for it and it will always be too low for those who are campaigning for Australia to contribute to a global response to climate change.

The greatest disappointment is that the legislation will pass through Parliament with minimal scrutiny by the Federal opposition. At the same time there has been little or no scrutiny of the Federal Opposition’s alternative policy which appears to be more costly and does not appear to actually meet the soft greenhouse gas emission targets.

The treasury modelling indicates that the Australian economy will continue to prosper and incomes will rise, despite the price on carbon. Most Australians will be financially compensated.

ASBG aims to provide members with details and share information about the assistance that will be available to Australian businesses. Stay tuned for upcoming ASBG workshops and information sessions.

Reef regulation compliance update

The reef protection measures under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 require sugarcane cane growers and cattle graziers to submit environmental risk management plans (ERMPs) for their property, to help minimise the risk of sediment, herbicide and nutrient run-off in the Great Barrier Reef.

Currently more than 94 per cent of operators have submitted, or are in the process of submitting, a plan.

Accreditation of the ERMPs is underway and is expected to be finalised by the end of 2011. Audits of other measures (such as the requirement to calculate and apply no more than the optimum amount of fertiliser), and of the implementation of ERMP action plans, will progress through 2011 and early 2012.

A simplified version of the cattle grazing ERMP for graziers has also been developed by an industry-government joint working group.

Read more about ERMPs on the ReefWise Farming website...

The Qld Party

There is an interesting development in Qld politics, purporting to present a new voice on sustainable development and the environment.

The Qld Party was originally formed by a couple of members of the Qld Legislative Assembly, who broke away from the Liberal National Party (LNP).

Having recently also broken away again from Bob Katter’s Australia Party, the Qld Party must now register 500 members by 5pm this Friday or face deregistration.

The Qld Party has a policy to call for an immediate moratorium on Coal Seam Gas and supports local representation in State Parliament allowing members to cross the floor on local issues.

CSG Training

The Qld Government announced another $1.4 million to expand the AgForward Coal Seam Gas Landholder Support Initiative into the Galilee and Bowen Basins.

The funding will be spent to assist landholders to negotiate with coal seam gas companies.

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