21 August, 2012




In recent SBW’s ASBG has been focusing on the details of amendments to the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld) (EP Act) through passing the Environmental Protection (Greentape Reduction) and Other Legislation Amendment Act (EPOLA).

This week is back to an overview of Green Tape Reduction to tie things all together. The EPOLA is scheduled to commence in March 2013.   Applications received after 31 March 2013 will be processed and assessed under the new, streamlined approval process. Applications received prior to 31 March 2013 will be processed under the current provisions

The EPOLA seeks to simplify and streamline regulatory requirements with a view to ensuring that Queensland's regulatory framework reduces costs to industry and government while maintaining environmental standards. In particular, it creates a single approval process for environmentally relevant activities (ERAs) and develops a licensing model that is proportionate to the risk the activity poses to the environment, providing flexible operational approvals for ERAs under the EP Act.

The EPOLA introduces a new licensing framework with a streamlined approval process for environmental authorities for all environmentally relevant activities, including resource activities.

If one holds a registration certificate before 31 March 2013 you will be automatically added to the suitable operator register. On 31 March 2013, the conditions in your development approval imposed by the administrative authority under the Environmental Protection Act 1994, along with your registration certificate, will effectively become your environmental authority.

Part of the parliamentary process was the review of the Greentape Reduction Bill by parliament’s Agriculture, Resource and Environment Committee.
The committee’s recommendations have led to the following amendments to the Greentape Reduction Bill:
  • Suitable operators will be removed from the register if they have not held an environmental authority for five years.
  • The notification period of 20 business days will exclude the dates between 20 December and 5 January of the following year (avoiding the Christmas/New Year period) to ensure individuals and community groups are afforded reasonable opportunities to respond to applications for environmental authorities for resource activities.
In addition to amendments to the Greentape Reduction Bill, the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection in partnership with the Department of Natural Resources and Mines, will develop a guideline to extend the submission period to 30 business days for large-scale mining or petroleum operations which have not already undergone an environmental impact statement.

The Newman Government claims the changes will bring about significant savings for both government and industry, with small-to-medium-sized businesses expected to benefit the most.

The environmental approvals system in Queensland has not been reformed in 15 years, and has grown to be a complex and difficult system. The purpose of the EPOLA is to make it easier and less costly for businesses to obtain environmental approvals, while the Government continues to uphold the environmental standards expected by the community.

The Newman Government also states that the environment will not suffer at the expense of industry as a consequence of the new assessment and approval process.

While Environmental Minister Andrew Powell has explained that the changes simplify the process and in no way lower environmental standards, the EPOLA has been criticised for not providing adequate notification periods, and thereby reducing the opportunity for affected stakeholders to express their concerns about the activity.

Further information about the transition into and operation under the new system is included in the updated frequently asked questions on the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) website.

Waste Water Discharge Policy

One of the Greentape Reduction initiatives is to improve the quality of information available. In the process of revising existing policies, EHP has drafted a technical guideline to replace the operational policy titled 'Waste water discharge to Queensland waters'.

This guideline will provide technical information for the assessment of proposals to discharge waste water to waters based on the provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1994.

Environmental Protection Regulation amendment project
As part of the Greentape Reduction reforms, the department is preparing amendments to the Environmental Protection Regulation 2008. The regulation will include provisions that support the changes to the Environmental Protection Act 1994 made by the Greentape Reduction Act.

Further Greentape Reduction initiatives are being investigated and an impact assessment will be released for public consultation if required.
There is more information, on the Greentape Reduction pages on the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) website.

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