18 September, 2013

Director-General reshuffle

The Qld Government has announced a series of Director-General appointments. Public service appointments include:
·       Andrew Chesterman will move from Department of Environment and Heritage Protection to become Public Service Commissioner,
·       Jon Black will move from the Department of Energy and Water Supply to become Director-General of the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection,
·       Dan Hunt will move from the Department of Natural Resources and Mines to become Director-General of the Department of Energy and Water Supply,
·       Dr Brett Heyward will move from Queensland Health Renewal Taskforce to become the Director-General of the Department of Natural Resources and Mines,
·       Sue Rickerby will move from the Department of Premier and Cabinet to become the Director-General of the Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts.

This week, I received a letter from outgoing Director General of the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection: Mr Andrew Chesterman as follows:

I am writing to advise that I have been asked to take up the role of CEO of the Public Service Commission and so I will be leaving the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP).  I would like ot thank you for your support over the past 18 months as we put in place a new customer-first approach to the way environment and heritage regulatory activities are undertaken in Queensland.

Since its establishment in April 2012, EHP has significantly changed its philosophy to ensure that its work not only protects and maintains the state’s environment but also helps to create jobs and contribute to a growing economy.
This customer-centric philosophy has become deeply in-grained in all our activities – from developing new regulatory reform policies, to implementing practical on-the-ground best management practice programs, to delivering high quality front-line services, both in Brisbane and right around Queensland.  This approach to business will not change.

Under the stewardship of Minister Powell, the department set out to listen to business and industry needs, particularly the need to cut green tape, streamline processes and reduce processing times. We also set ourselves an ambitious goal – to be the benchmark that all other environment and heritage protection agencies in Australia aspire to reach.

In response we have delivered a new framework for the way environment and regulatory activities are undertaken in Queensland.

We have established clear performance outcomes and have been flexible with environmental assessments, rather than dictating requirements.

We have also worked hard to make it easier and cheaper for you to apply for and obtain environmental approvals and we have reduced the processing time for environmental impact statements for major project proposals.  Last year we completed impact assessments for proposals which will support $5 billion in capital expenditure and 600 jobs if they are developed as approved.

We have also listened to your request to make our performance more transparent and now regularly publish our performance report on the EHP website.

In my new role as head of the Public Service Commission, I will be leveraging from my experience in EHP by instilling this customer-first philosophy across all government public sector agencies.

Meanwhile Jon Black will take over as Director-General of EHP and continue to deliver on the agenda we have set.

Jon has a strong background in water management in Queensland as the former Director-General of the department of Energy and Water Supply.  Previous to this Jon was the CEO of the Northern South-East Queensland (SEQ) Distributor-Retailer Authority, UnityWater, and prior to that the SEQ water and sewerage distribution business.

I can assure you that the co-operative partnership between the Minister and the department will not change.  We are well placed to continue the renewal and reform process the government has requested of us.

Again, I would like to thank you for the support I have received over the past 18 months as we have worked with business and industry towards achieving sustainable development across Queensland.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Chesterman


13 September, 2013

The Water Grid and Traveston Crossing Dam

I don't buy or read the Courier Mail but I picked up this conversation and a link to an article on twitter.

Today Des Houghton had a story on the front page of the Courier Mail which began:

a $2.7 billion water recycling scheme will remain mothballed, unless there are customers for it, Premier Campbell Newman says.....

The Western Corridor water recycling scheme was designed as an indirect potable reuse scheme.  All of the industrial customers combined - power stations, oil refineries, paper mills, abattoirs etc...can only use about 10% of the water.  Agriculture could use the water but they may not be able to afford the costs of treatment and transport.  

and then the article in the Courier Mail states:

Completed in 2009, the business linked three water plants and was the linchpin in the $6.9 billion water grid that was designed to drought-proof Queensland.
Water Minister Mark McArdle said although the recycling scheme produced water for power stations, none of it made it to drinking supplies.
"The scheme has been an unmitigated disaster,'' he said.

The quantity and quality of water produced by the Advanced Water Treatment plants is suited for potable (drinking) supplies.

Later, former Qld Premier Peter Beattie responded blaming Campbell Newman and/or Anna Bligh ....

"It started under the Bligh Government, it's continued under the new government - when it comes to water, both of them have stuffed it up," he (Peter Beattie) said.

The following Conversation took place on twitter:

    1. Happy to defend my government's record on the water grid during dreadful QLD drought. 12-25 pm outside Merthyr Bowl's club in New Farm today
    2. oh, this WILL be fun, defending waste of public funds
    3. No just making sure QLD didn't run out of water. Worst drought in a 100 years.
    4. so where was the Westdene dam?
    5. I planned two dams. One was build and the other was blocked by the Rudd Govt; a bad decision.
From my point of view, Kevin Rudd did not block Traveston Crossing Dam.  The Hon Peter Garrett, as Environment Minister was unable to approve the construction and operation of Traveston Crossing Dam because the proponent (the Qld State Government via Queensland Water Infrastructure Pty Ltd) was unable to demonstrate that they could conserve threatened species or wetlands of international significance.

It is difficult to convey this in 140 characters.

Professor Stuart Bunn's concluding remarks in his review of EIS and supplementary materials on proposed Traveston Crossing Dam,. Mary River, SE Qld: II: Final report are pretty clear.

The conversation continued.....

      1. You opposed the Traveston dam Rowan. SEQ needs the dam and a properly constructed water grid. One day that will be clear.

        Image will appear as a link
      2. - Peter, I do not dispute that SEQ needs adequate water supplies.

  1. - I fear will hand responsibility for the act to et al and it will be anything goes
  2. Last words. SEQ needs a properly constructed water grid to ensure water security for its 2 million + people for next drought
  3. : Peter, I agree with you more than I disagree. I doubt this will be the last words we have on this matter.

12 September, 2013

Uranium Mining

A Qld Government media Statement follows..........

Minister for Natural Resources and Mines
The Honourable Andrew Cripps

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Queensland takes next step to uranium mining industry

The Newman Government has today taken the next important step in re-establishing the uranium mining industry in Queensland.
Natural Resources and Mines Minister Andrew Cripps today released an action plan to implement a best practice regulatory framework for uranium mining in Queensland that will ensure the maintenance of strict environmental, safety and approval standards.
“The government has developed this implementation strategy in response to a detailed report by the Uranium Mining Implementation Committee (UMIC) which was released in March 2013,” Mr Cripps said.
“The strategy outlines the actions various state government agencies will deliver and covers all aspects of the approvals process, including environmental standards, safety and health, economic and community development, indigenous opportunities and native title.”
Mr Cripps said uranium exports had the potential to generate significant revenue for Queensland over the next two decades.
“With an estimated value of the in-ground uranium resource in Queensland of approximately $10 billion, with more than $8 billion located in north-west Queensland, the industry has real potential to support economic growth and job creation,” he said.
“The government’s focus is to ensure all the uranium-specific regulatory guidelines and protocols are in place to begin assessing applications from mid-July 2014.
“Importantly, the Newman Government has endorsed the Committee’s key finding that, with certain adaptations, Queensland’s existing systems for regulating mining and radiation safety are robust and can accommodate uranium across the mining cycle.”
The best practice regulatory framework will take account of all relevant issues across the uranium mining life cycle such as:
-       Whole of project assessments (including tenure management)
-       Safe handling and transportation
-       Safety and health risk management systems
-       Environmental management, and
-       Native title
A Uranium Mining Oversight Committee will be established to review and monitor progress against the action plan and take a lead role on technical oversight issues, project governance and delivery timeframes.
Mr Cripps said commercial demand for uranium would determine when uranium mining would recommence in Queensland.
“There are a number of factors that will influence the timing of uranium mining operations and it is ultimately a commercial decision for industry proponents," he said. 
“These factors include the world market price for uranium, supply and demand in that market, and mining costs.
“The Queensland Government’s role is to provide investment certainty for industry by having best practice regulatory, compliance and approval processes in place.”
More information is available at:
[ENDS] 12 September 2013

Media contact: Jane Paterson 0417 281 754

EHP's Regulation Strategy

EHP’s Regulation Strategy

Back in February 2013, the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection announced fundamental changes to the way it manages and regulates the risks to Qld’s environment and heritage places.

I believe it is prudent to understand how the current regulatory strategy has changed from past practices of the former Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM).

From the Budget Papers released in June 2013 it would appear that EHP now has less financial and human resources for regulation management than DERM did (apart from an injection of funds for Coal Seam Gas regulation).

Part of the rationale for the change in strategy includes:
·       speed up the time it takes for clients to get an approval,
·       increase the number of inspections of high-risk activities, and
·       make sure EHP are taking strong enforcement action where needed.

I have noticed a trend towards a lot less regulation and so-called “light handed regulation”, however what regulation remains is being enforced with vigour.

A selection of the department’s enforcement actions are summarised in prosecution bulletins outlining the facts and outcomes of finalised prosecutions.

The department’s annual compliance plan informs the Qld community of EHP’s planned compliance activities for the coming year.

The department monitors and reports on EHP’s compliance activities as part of its annual compliance plan program through a mid-year report and an end-of year report. The mid-year report  provides an update on the progress achieved in meeting the targets outlined in the annual compliance plan during the first and second quarters of the reporting period (July to December).

I have yet to see he end-of-year report which details all activities undertaken during the reporting period (July to June) and the outcomes of the compliance projects undertaken.

The reports provide information on the number of incidents and complaints the department has responded to as well as the enforcement actions taken during the reporting period.

EHP has also put together a short presentation about the changes to the way it manages and regulates environmental risks and how they will affect you as their client.

Since February 2013 there has been a new focus on the environmental outcomes a client must achieve.

For example, if one is required to ensure that no pollutants are released into the air, or that wastewater released to a river must meet certain quality standards, EHP will no longer assess whether a client can meet those outcomes, or how they propose to achieve them.  The responsibility now sits with you as EHP’s client.

This will now be the responsibility of the client and not the role of the department.

EHP still provide some guidance and examples on acceptable ways of managing environmental risks, but the decision on how those risks will be managed will sit with the client.

So when EHP grant a licence, the department will impose conditions that set out outcomes that the client must achieve.

EHP no longer impose conditions that tell the client how to achieve those outcomes.

For example, the department may impose a condition that contaminated stormwater must not leave a site, but it will not impose conditions that set out the design of the stormwater system needed to achieve this. The responsibility now sits with you as EHP’s client.
If you as an EHP client cannot meet the outcomes set by the department, one may face enforcement action.

Another major change, one may have noticed is be more frequent site inspections to ensure clients are complying with your licence conditions.

If one can demonstrate that one is consistently meeting the department’s requirements, EHP will inspect them less often.

I recommend one preempt EHP inspections and conduct in-house “pre-audit” inspections and provide EHP with a report.  If one is not meeting licence conditions, EHP is much more likely to carry out more frequent inspections until one lifts one’s performance to a better level.

EHP’s Clients who fail to comply with their licence, may face strong action to ensure the problem is fixed quickly.

EHP has already started making these changes to how we work to better regulate business and industry. Since February 2013 one may have noticed faster turnaround times for licences, fewer conditions, more site inspections, and tougher enforcement action.

For more information on these changes, please read the department’s regulatory strategy now available on the EHP website.

Wandoan Coal

Glencore Xstrata has officially shelved the $7b Wandoan thermal coal project in Qld amid a slump in the coal price, over-supply “and other challenges in the global coal market”.

Back in August 2011, the Mining giant was taken to the Land Court by the community based activist organisation – Friends of the Earth.  Glencore Xstrata was asked to defend the greenhouse impacts of its proposed Wandoan coal mine.  A variety of experts gave evidence concerning the impacts of Wandoan Coal mine on Qld's environment & the global climate.