15 July, 2011

Sustainable Business Weekly QLD Edition [Qld Infrastructure Plan, Green Door, Price On Pollution]

The Qld Infrastructure Plan & Regionalisation Strategy

This week, the Qld infrastructure blueprint for the next 20 years was released by the State Government for consultation.

The Queensland Infrastructure Plan (QIP) released this week is the foundation document to the Queensland Regionalisation Strategy (QRS) includes major documents including a significant masterplan for the Bruce Highway.

The aim of the QIP is to provide a clear outline of short-term infrastructure projects, as well as outlining the longer-term infrastructure priorities to meet the needs of Qld’s growing regions and the rebuilding tasks resulting from the recent natural disasters that have affected Qld.

As the key state-wide infrastructure planning document, the QIP replaces other regional infrastructure plans and programs including the South East Qld Infrastructure Plan and Program and the Far North Qld Infrastructure Plan.

Key projects prioritised in the QIP include:

Transit Networks; Bruce Highway upgrades; Dams, Airports; Ports, Kogan Creek Solar Boost; Rail; Pipelines; Gold Coast Rapid Transit and the Brisbane Cross River Rail.

The State Government now needs feedback from Qld businesses on the plan.

Opening a Green Door?

This week the Qld State Government announced that the Green Door is now open and the Green Door Information Paper is now available.

The Green Door is a Qld State Government initiative, developed in conjunction with local government and industry to accelerate the development assessment of exemplary sustainable 'green' developments in Qld.

Features could include the delivery of planning and economic priorities in a particular region, a significant reduction of water, waste and energy, the creation of permanent jobs or the provision of innovative and effective sustainable transport options.

Green Door aims to encourage leadership and innovation in sustainable developments by offering the 'fast track' opportunity to only the highest achieving projects.

A Price on pollution

On Sunday the Federal Government finally released details of the Price on pollution. At $23 per tonne in 2012 - the price will rise by 2.5% per annum.

It would appear (with the support of the Greens & a few independent, the legislation will pass through the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The Australian Federal Government is proposing a fixed price for the first 3 years commencing 1 July 2012. The plan is to transition to a cap and trade emissions trading scheme with the carbon price to be determined by the market.

The threshold has been set at 25 000 tonnes of CO2-e for assessing whether a facility is subject to the carbon pricing mechanism. Scope 1 emissions (direct emissions), together with legacy waste emissions, will count. The Government suggests around 500 businesses will be required to pay for their pollution under this mechanism.

The following sources will be covered: stationary energy, waste, industrial processes and fugitive emissions.

Transport has been excluded, but a fuel excise will apply. Heavy on-road transportation will not have any changes until 1 July 2014. More than half the revenue generated will go to helping households with tax cuts. Remaining revenue directed to power generators, renewable energy, clean energy, jobs and competitiveness assistance program.

A new Climate Change Authority will be established and headed by Bernie Fraser. This Authority will make independent recommendations to the government on the progress of the scheme, to ensure the longer-term emissions reduction target is met.

The Qld Government’s response to the Carbon Tax (Price on pollution)

This week the Qld Treasurer Andrew Fraser claimed that Qld Government has always supported action on climate change. Mr Fraser believes that putting a price on carbon is the most economically responsible way to take action.

However, the Qld State Government has apparently made it very clear to the Federal Government that the State will not support reforms that are not in the long-term interests of Queensland.

The Qld Government supports putting a price on the pollution emitted by the country's (so-called) biggest polluters, and compensation for the vast bulk of households, for any costs passed on.

The Treasurer said that the Queensland Government has lobbied hard to ensure things like agriculture and fuel were excluded. The Qld Government sought special arrangements to foster the development of the coal seam gas and LNG industries.

The Qld State Government remains reliant on the coal and LNG sectors for royalties. The Qld Government has welcomed the assistance for the coal industry, particularly to develop new technology.

The Qld Government is particularly exposed as the owner of numerous large coal fired power stations. The initial estimates show that the asset value of the State owned generators is likely to decrease by around $1.7 billion.

Governments and business are frantically analysing the detail and the impacts. Stay tuned!

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