28 June, 2013

Energy Efficiency Opportunities

The Gillard Government had recently released the Regulation Impact Statements (RISs) for the extension of the EEO Program to new development and expansion projects, and electricity and gas transmission and distribution businesses. 

The new developments RIS has shown clear net cost and energy saving benefits and the Federal Government had confirmed that it is proceeding with New development and major expansion projects.   
In its July 2011 Securing a Clean Energy Future package, the Australian Government announced it would extend the EEO Program to include new developments and expansion projects which meet an energy use threshold when operational will be required to assess the site from the initial design concept through to commercial operation.
A series of regulatory changes have been proposed to modify the existing EEO Assessment Framework to align with design stage processes. The proposed changes draw on feedback from stakeholder consultations through 2011 and 2012 and a series of trials with companies which assessed the application of the assessment and reporting framework, and evaluated costs and benefits for the regulation impact statement. 

However, the Government will not proceed with the electricity and gas networks extension. The Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) for the extension of the EEO program to electricity and gas transmission and distribution businesses.

Analysis shows the costs of expanding the program would exceed the benefits and as a result the Federal Government will not proceed with this extension.  The networks pass on the costs of losses to users, so there is no economic benefit (or drivers) for them to reduce such costs.

Amendments to the EEO regulations have been made that remove the expiry date of the current exemption of transmission and distribution businesses.

23 June, 2013

Great Barrier Reef

The 37th session of the World Heritage Committee is sitting in the Kingdom of Cambodia, in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap-Angkor, from 16th to 27th June 2013.


The 37th session is organized by UNESCO and the National Commission of Cambodia with the support of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.

Last week the World Heritage Committee has delayed its decision on whether to list the Great Barrier Reef as ‘in danger’.

The Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) provides an overarching mechanism for protecting the World Heritage values from inappropriate development, including actions taken inside or outside which could impact on its heritage values. This requires any development proposals to undergo rigorous environmental impact assessment processes, often including public consultation, after which the Federal Minister may decide, to approve, reject or approve under conditions designed to mitigate any significant impacts.

A recent amendment to the EPBC Act makes the GBR Marine Park an additional 'trigger' for a matter of National Environmental Significance which provides additional protection for the values within the GBR.

The Qld Government has welcomed the opportunity to continue our initiatives while further considerations are made over the next year.

The 2009 Outlook Report identified the long-term challenges facing the GBR; these are dominated by climate change over the next few decades.
The extent and persistence of damage to the GBR ecosystem will depend to a large degree on the amount of change in the world’s climate and on the resilience of the GBR ecosystem to such change. This report also identified continued declining water quality from land-based sources, loss of coastal habitats from coastal development, and some impacts from fishing, illegal fishing and poaching as the other priority issues requiring management attention for the long-term protection of the GBR.

Emerging issues since the 2009 Outlook Report include proposed port expansions, increases in shipping activity, coastal development and intensification and changes in land use within the GBR catchment; population growth; the impacts from marine debris; illegal activities; and extreme weather events including floods and cyclones.

Further building the resilience of the GBR by improving water quality, reducing the loss of coastal habitats and increasing knowledge about fishing and its effects and encouraging modified practices, will give the GBR its best chance of adapting to and recovering from the threats ahead, including the impacts of a changing climate.

The Qld Government is attempting to address UNESCO’s concerns and deliver on their recommendations.

They include:
·       Establishing a scientific panel to monitor Gladstone Harbour as part of a $4 million Gladstone Healthy Harbour Partnership,
·       Committing $35 million each year for reef protection and improved water quality,
·       Releasing a draft Ports Strategy that clearly states our intention to limit port development to existing areas.

The Qld Government has implemented a best management practice programs with the agricultural industry to reduce nutrient run off and improve water quality.

19 June, 2013

Climate Adaption and Development Approvals

Climate Adaption and Development Approvals

Last week the Qld Planning and Environment Court delivered a significant climate change adaptation decision. The Rainbow Shores P/L v Gympie Regional Council & Ors case sets a new precedent for decision makers considering development in the Qld coastal zone.

The court has dismissed an appeal by the developer of a large integrated resort and residential community at Rainbow Beach on the basis of its potential exposure to erosion, storm surge and climate change related sea level rise.

The court noted that mapping of coastal hazards is currently subject to draft coastal protection state planning regulatory provisions.

The Judge concluded that it would be unwise to grant a development approval, without ensuring that the future development is protected from potential inundation. The proposal should make allowance for the 100 year ocean surge level.  The Judge could not justify ignoring the current predictions of sea level rise affecting the property. The development proposal was considered to be inadequate in its current form.

17 June, 2013

Qld flags Federal environmental regulation concerns

The following Media Statement came from the Qld Minister.  I would love to know more....

Media Statements

Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection
The Honourable Andrew Powell

Monday, June 17, 2013

Queensland flags Federal environmental regulation concerns

Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection Andrew Powell has urged the Federal Government not to rush through any proposed amendments to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act in an attempt to shore up political support.

Andrew Powell says proposed amendments to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act must be debated thoroughly and the Gillard Government must put the environment ahead of green preferences.

“There is no doubt the Federal Labor Government will want to push a number of legislative changes through during these final weeks of parliament before the September election, but it would be dangerous and irresponsible to use the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act as a political tool,’ Mr Powell said.

“Any changes to this act require proper consultation with the States and Territories as well as a thorough analysis of the impacts to both the environment and the economy.

"I urge the Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke to talk to all environment ministers first before making last minute amendments that could produce adverse outcomes.

“I am very concerned that the unnecessary amendments being pushed through by the Independent Federal Member for New England may in fact go even further in an attempt to secure green preferences.

"These amendments to the EPBC Act fly directly in the face of what was agreed to by the federal and state governments at the COAG meeting late last year where there was agreement to minimise  duplication in environmental approvals processes, while ensuring state governments met the highest environmental standards.

“The Newman Government recognises the importance of these standards and is committed to do what is best for the long term future of the State and I urge the federal government to do the same.

 “Any further duplication, or bureaucratic  imposition on industry would signal a cynical Labor more intent on tying government and industry up in unnecessary red tape rather than focussing on matters of environmental significance.

“Any amendments to the EPBC legislation need to be discussed and debated sensibly, not rushed through in an attempt to harm political opponents.

“It’s ironic as we approach the federal election there is this sudden sense of urgency. Yet when it came to releasing something as important as the second report card into reef water quality protection, the Federal government was prepared to sit on it’s hands and leave it on the shelf.

“Queensland is determined to deliver strong outcomes for the State’s natural and built environments and I urge the federal government to do the same.

“We’ve worked hard to cut bureaucratic red tape and establish processes to work with a diverse range of organisations and businesses to ensure the long term future of our environment. That’s the way forward.  Using the environment as a way of shoring up green votes and support is not.”

[ENDS] 17 June 2013

Media contact: Lynette Keep 0419 620 299

06 June, 2013

Qld Budget

Qld Budget

The Qld Government Budget paper No.4 provides a consolidation of expense, capital and revenue measures reflecting decisions by the Qld Government since the 2012-13 austerity Budget.

The following is summary of some of the highlights of measures of the Qld Government concerning the Environment.

The Qld Government will provide additional net funding of $1.7m over four years, which together with existing funding will provide a total of $4.6m over four years to coordinate, develop and implement The Queensland Plan: a 30 year vision for Queensland which will inform the Government's response and future policy program.


The Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR) will undertake a comprehensive review of the State's approach to Coal Seam Gas industry regulation.  The OBPR will develop options for cost recovery.

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection will receive $3.7m for the regulation and administration of the Coal Seam Gas industry.  A total of $11m for CSG regulation is spread across the following departments:
·  Environment and Heritage Protection
·  Energy and Water Supply,
·  Natural Resources and Mines and
·  State Development, Infrastructure and Planning.

Gladstone Harbour and the Reef

The Qld Government will provide an additional $4m over two years towards the Gladstone Healthy Harbour Partnership, investigating the hydrodynamic, biogeochemistry, marine biodiversity, water quality, marine toxicology, ecosystem health and decision support and modelling.

The funds are subject to an industry contribution of $1.5m per year (total of $3m) in funding for collaborative action between Government, the community and industry to maintain and continuously improve harbour health.

The Qld budget has increased funding of $2.8m over three years from 2014-15 for the coordination of the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan. The Plan aims to conserve this internationally recognised world heritage site from the impact of poor water quality by promoting land management improvements including the reduction of wasteful run-off of fertilizers, pesticides and soil.

The Federal Government has also progressed an independent and public review of environmental management arrangements and governance of Qld's Port of Gladstone.

The Qld Government will provide funding of $80m over five years from 2013-14 towards natural resource management investment in Qld including initiatives to protect the Great Barrier Reef. 

Incidentally, the Federal Government renewed its commitment to protecting the Great Barrier Reef with the State Party Report on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

The Federal and Qld Governments are currently progressing draft strategic assessment and program reports and these will be released for public comment in the first half of the year.

Waterways, Resilience and other Measures

There is increased funding of $8m over four years commencing in 2013-14 towards the South East Queensland (SEQ) Healthy Waterways Partnership. This program will provide project funding for water quality improvement and waterway resilience across SEQ including Moreton Bay. Projects will run in partnership with local governments, Healthy Waterways Ltd and SEQ Catchments.
Following on from floods and cyclones, the Qld Government is providing additional funding of $40m towards the Betterment Fund which will support the building of stronger, more resilient infrastructure. The Federal Government is matching the funding provided by the Government so that the total value of the program is $80m.

The Government is providing increased funding of $41.7m over two years for the continuation of the Qld Reconstruction Authority through to 30 June 2014.

The Qld Government is providing additional funding of $3.9m over three years and has approved the reallocation of $0.55m for the establishment of the Community Resilience Team. The team will provide effective coordination, governance and reporting of the whole-of-Government response to the 2012-13 natural disasters and to oversee community resilience activities across Qld.

The Qld Government is providing additional funding of $1m over three years and has approved the reallocation of $0.32m for the appointment of three Disaster Recovery Coordinators. These officers will provide a coordinated approach to the recovery and rebuilding of Qld following the 2012-13 natural disasters.

The Qld Government will provide increased funding of $15.9m over four years from 2013-14 for the implementation of joint park management and maintenance for lands to be declared protected areas under the Cape York Peninsula Tenure Resolution Program. Further funding for this measure was allocated to the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs.

The Qld Government has approved the reallocation of $1.4m in 2013-14 to establish the Building and Construction Compliance Branch with responsibility for monitoring, educating, reporting and ensuring compliance with the Qld Code of Practice for the Building and Construction Industry.

03 June, 2013

release of mine water into the Fitzroy

Legacy Mine Water Program

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) is responsible for regulating and monitoring mines water releases into receiving environments and works collaboratively with other government agencies in managing, monitoring and mitigating mines releases during times of extreme weather events.

The Economic Development Act 2012  was passed by the Qld Parliament on 29 November 2012 to enable the State Government to approve the release of water from mines with only 24 hours notice.  The Qld Government will extend the Legacy Mine Water program to other coal mines in the Fitzroy River Basin in the next wet season, through changes to the coal mines environmental authorities.

Under a Temporary Emissions License, companies no longer have to test their mine water for contaminants before they release.

Central Queensland coal mines still have an estimated 250 gigalitres of excess water as a result of the recent wet seasons.

The Qld Government is committed to working with industry to address the legacy mine water issue, as an important step to delivering a long-term improvement in Fitzroy basin water quality.

Uranium Mining

Uranium Mining

The Qld Government has announced it will recommence uranium mining in Qld, governed by world's best practice and strict environmental, safety and approval processes.

The Australian Conservation Foundation says it received a letter from Premier Campbell Newman just days prior to this announcement that stated the Qld Government had no plans to approve uranium mining.

On 30 October 2012 the Government established an independent Uranium Mining Implementation Committee (the UMIC) to examine and report on a best practice policy framework for a Queensland uranium mining and export industry.

Uranium Mining Implementation Committee its report including multiple recommendations on 18 March 2013 for consideration by Government.

The UMIC report makes practical recommendations about important issues including environmental management and protection, safety and health, economic and community development, the safe transportation of uranium and community engagement.

The Qld government is still considering the recommendations and developing its response.

02 June, 2013

Abbott would close the Clean Energy Finance Corp

Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

In the wake of the federal budget reply, I have observed that an incoming Coalition government would probably shut down the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

The CEFC is currently a legislated $10 billion fund, established by the Federal Government, dedicated to investing in clean energy.

Under its enabling legislation, its investment activities will be funded through a special appropriation of $2 billion to a special account every year for five years, commencing from 1 July 2013.

The CEFC's investment objectives are to catalyse and leverage an increased flow of funds for the commercialisation and deployment of Australian-based renewable energy, low emissions and energy efficiency technologies, thus preparing and positioning the Australian economy and industry for a carbon constrained world.

The CEFC leverages public and private sector capital and skills to meet public policy outcomes.

By working with private sector co-financiers, the CEFC aims to both leverage the total amount of funding available and to enhance the expertise and capacity of the financial sector to fund clean energy.

The CEFC will invest in organisations and projects using 'clean energy technologies' as well as manufacturing businesses that focus on producing the inputs required.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act 2012 excludes investment in technology for carbon capture and storage, nuclear technology or nuclear power.

The CEFC has been set up to make its investment decisions independently, based on rigorous commercial assessments.

The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, said he would save up to $400 million by scrapping the CEFC scheme.

I wonder how much less industry would implement low emission technologies without the $10 billion seed investment funding that the CEFC framework could provide at a cost to the Government of less than $400 million.

The plan for the CEFC was to invest in organisations and projects using ‘clean energy technologies’ as well as manufacturing businesses that focus on producing the inputs required.

I suspect that the axing of the CEFC will undermine efforts to build a competitive low carbon economy.

This move has the potential to destabilise and deter significant market based investment in technology and infrastructure in the power generation sector and threaten Australia’s transition to a less carbon-dependent and more sustainable economy.

The loss of the CEFC is likely to destabilise clean-energy investment, severely limit new long-term projects and leave Australia’s economy exposed to future emissions restraints in a carbon-constrained global market.”

Mr Hunt recently mentioned that only three sectors of the current ‘departmental’ arrangements will remain:

·     National Greenhouse Energy and Reporting Scheme (NGER)
·     Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI)
·     Clean Energy Regulator (CER)

So the likes of the Climate Change Authority (CCA) other parts of the old Department of Climate Change and Eneryg Efficiency and possibly the Energy Efficiency Opportunities (EEO) will be absorbed under other departments. 

Mr Hunt also indicated that simplification and lowering of measurement costs was also a high priority.  NGERs will be the reporting systems and other duplicate, state and also EEO would be simplified.