03 July, 2012

Draft Sustainable Business Weekly

·         Contaminated Land Conference on 18 July 2012
·         Environmental Management Workshop on the 19 July 2012 to bring Managers up to speed on changes to Environmental Law.

Government by Gazette

In the Sustainable Business Weekly last week, ASBG noted that the Qld Premier committed the Qld Government to repeal the Waste Levy to take effect from 1 July 2012.  What was unclear was how Premier Newman intended to repeal the legislation.

Last Friday, a notice advising the making of Waste Reduction and Recycling Regulation Amendment 2012 was published in the Queensland Gazette on 22 June 2012 on pages 364-365. If one looks at the Waste Reduction and Recycling Regulation 2011, it has not been reprinted yet to reflect the amendment regulation.   The regulation still appears to still contain the levy provisions.  However the amendment regulation shows one which provisions have been repealed, so one has to compare both documents to get a good understand of changes occurring on 1 July 2012.

The amendment removes (or omits) the definitions of:
·         regulated waste—high hazard;
·         regulated waste—low hazard;
·         regulated waste—other;
·         prescribed exempt waste;
which were inconsistent with the definitions of hazardous waste in other States.

The Waste Reduction and Recycling Regulation Amendment Regulation 2012  simply sets the price of the waste levy to $0 from 1 July 2012. 

Waste levies in NSW & Vic were intended to increase recycling by making the recovery of waste more financially attractive than sending it to landfill.  Now (in effect) it is more financially attractive to transport waste to Qld.   ASBG observes that the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act remains in place and the Qld Government could (in theory) reintroduce the waste levy at a moment’s notice by making a subsequent Regulation amendment.   The rate of waste levy for each type of waste delivered to a levyable waste disposal site could be adjusted.

New Guidelines from the New Department

This week, in his first Qld Media Club speech since the Liberal National Party's election victory in March, Qld Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney declared that the Department of Environment and Resource Management is "dead" as he urged activists to stop spouting emotional claims about “environmental Armageddon”.
Mr Seeney flagged the introduction of a temporary planning policy, ensuring the need for economic growth was the primary consideration whenever a decision was made, ahead of a major shake-up of planning laws.
Mr Seeney, who is Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning, vowed to empower local councils and encourage investment, while also pledging to ensure environmental protection.

The newly formed Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) – was formed from the ashes of the Department of Environment and Resource Management.

As part of implementing the recommendations from the Flood Commission of Inquiry, EHP has published its guideline on issuing emergency directions to release contaminants. The guideline sets out the matters that EHP will consider when making a decision about issuing such a direction.

EHP has also amended its guideline on transitional environmental programs, to provide greater guidance on how it will apply the standard criteria under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 to decisions about approving or refusing a draft program.
EHP is reviewing its compliance strategy, enforcement guidelines and annual compliance plan. New documents that reflect the priorities and approach of the department will be published on the EHP website soon.

Premier Campbell Newman has said mining magnate Clive Palmer will not be allowed to dump polluted water into the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef zone.

Tailing ponds at Mr Palmer’s nickel refinery at Yabulu, about 28 kilometres north of Townsville, are at risk of bursting following heavy rains and cyclonic weather last year.

Mr Palmer’s company Queensland Nickel wants to pump water from the ponds into nearby Halifax Bay, which is home to dugongs and turtles in the Great Barrier Reef zone.

Queensland’s Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said Mr Palmer has unsuccessfully tried to pressure the Queensland government into lowering environmental standards
Mr Seeney said Mr Palmer’s was making an excuse to lower environmental standards and he should have dealt with the problem earlier.
Mr Palmer said the refinery had been releasing “benign” water into the bay for about 30 years and the previous owner, BHP Billiton, should not have allowed the problem to get so bad in the first place.

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