18 July, 2013

EHP's Performance Assessment

EHP’s Performance Assessment

The June 2013 Public Performance Report is available and provides an overall overview of Department of Environment and Heritage Protection’s self assessment of performance.

Information on the department’s assessment of its current and trending levels of performance in assessing and approving resource and development projects will be regularly published on the EHP website.

Last month, the Qld Government released the 2013–14 State Budget.

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection’s $171.1m operating budget allocation and $30.1m capital budget includes a number of funding commitments including:

·       $11.7m to continue to increase koala habitat,
·       $10.7m for the protected land acquisitions program.
·       $4m for funding to community groups,
·       $3.7m for the regulation of the coal seam gas industry.
·       $2.5m, as part of a two year $4m commitment, to the Gladstone Healthy Harbour Partnership.
·       $2m as part of a four year $8m commitment, for the SEQ Healthy Waterways program.

The stated objectives for EHP in 2013–14 include:
·       continued measures to cut red tape,
·       implementation of practical programs that uphold environmental standards,
·       funding for grassroots environmental projects across the state.

Further to reforms to the current planning and development, the Qld State Government believes it has made further significant cuts to red tape. The Newman Government’s Resources Cabinet Committee has made it even easier to gain approvals for resources projects.
The Changes aim to streamline the environmental impact statement (EIS) process, which all large resource projects need to complete.

As part of the changes, the Coordinator-General and Department of Environment and Heritage Protection formulated new risk-based, generic terms of reference for EIS processes conducted under the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971.

In practice, the EIS process should identify the same environmental values and propose the same environmental protection commitments that would be found in the Environmental Management plan, but an EIS typically goes into greater detail. The EIS is used by the proponent to develop an EM plan.

At an early stage, terms of reference are developed that provide the minimum expectations for the scope of the EIS. EHP publishes generic terms of reference to assist the development of project-specific draft terms of reference. The draft terms of reference are made available for a minimum period of 30 business days so that stakeholders and any member of the public can review the document and comment on what values, impacts and commitments should be considered in the EIS.

When the proponent has produced the EIS, it too is made available for a minimum period of 30 business days for stakeholders and the public to review the document, and to submit comments on the quality of the proponent’s assessment and commitments.

The aim of the process is to identify all significant impacts and propose all reasonable and practicable measures to protect the environment, before EHP develops the draft environmental authority.  A framework titled Managing the Impacts of Major Projects in Resource Communities, outlines a package of initiatives to assist local government, communities and industry work together to manage the impacts of resource development on regional communities.
A new suite of guidance and support material for applicants developed by EHP aims to help clients complete their application and avoid further information requests from the department. Fully completed applications allow EHP to complete the assessment process more quickly.

The reforms also include a government case management role with industry, state and local government and Local Area Infrastructure Programs (LAIPs) to prioritise community infrastructure investment.

EHP is still involved with the assessment and approval of resource and development projects under the Environmental Protection Act 1994.

During 2012–13 EHP completed environmental impact assessments on projects that, if they progress, will contribute $5 billion in capital expenditure.

In addition, EHP is also conducting assessments for more than 30 major resource project proposals, which will contribute up to $18 billion in capital expenditure.

Enhancements to EHP’s environmental assessment system in 2013 have also resulted in a significant reduction in assessment and approval times for environmental authorities.

In 2012–13 the average assessment timeframe for petroleum, geothermal and greenhouse gas activities was 28 business days, down from 56 business days in the previous financial year.

Waste Management Review

The Environmental Protection (Waste Management) Regulation 2000 expires on 1 September 2013. A review of the regulation has been undertaken and a discussion paper outlining several options is now available for comment.

Submissions close on 22 July 2013. You can email submissions to: Epact.Policy@ehp.qld.gov.au

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