17 December, 2013

Greentape Reform

Greentape Reduction Reform

On 6 December 2013 amendments were made to the Environmental Protection Regulation 2008 as part of so-called Greentape Reduction reforms. Amendments include standard conditions for different prescribed environmentally relevant activities (ERAs) and prescribing conditions for small scale mining activities.

Standard Conditions

The Environmental Protection Regulation 2008 has made eligibility criteria and standard conditions for the following eligible ERAs.
·         ERA 13(2) - Retreading tyres

Operators who are able to meet the eligibility criteria can now make a standard application for an environmental authority. If an operator needs to vary one or more of the standard conditions they may do so by making a variation application. Use the online tool to identify the correct application type for your project.

Small scale mining reforms

Small scale mining activities include:
·         a mining claim for 20 hectares or less for opals, gemstones and other precious stones,
·         an exploration permit (minerals) for 4 sub-blocks or less for minerals other than coal.

These activities were deregulated by the Mining and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2013 (MOLA Act) in March 2013.

This change to Qld’s environmental regulation means that small scale mining operators no longer need to apply for an environmental authority.

To support the reforms and ensure environmental standards are maintained, prescribed conditions relating to rehabilitation and financial assurance have been included in Environmental Protection Regulation 2008. The regulation also includes a list of designated environmental areas which are derived from ‘category C environmentally sensitive areas’ and supports the definition of small scale mining activity in the dictionary of the Environmental Protection Act 1994.

Other Changes to ERA regulation

From 2 January 2014 changes to the Environmental Protection Regulation 2008 will remove the devolution of administration and enforcement responsibilities in relation to particular ERAs from the State to certain local governments. A number of local governments that administered 10 or less licenced sites in their local area following the deletion of several ERAs earlier this year elected to have the administration and enforcement of these remaining ERAs returned to the State. A total of 17 local governments listed in Schedule 8A of the regulation no longer have devolved responsibilities, with 20 licences being transferred to the State.

The regulation also prescribes a fee of $2,200 for applications for a Temporary Emissions Licence.

One Stop Shop

Qld is finalising a new agreement on environmental assessments with the Commonwealth Government.  The agreement enables the establishment of a single assessment process that incorporates state and federal requirements to ensure proponents meet the national environmental standards.

The Federal Government will retain control over decisions involving offshore Commonwealth waters, nuclear actions and projects for which state governments are “likely to have a significant conflict of interest” as the proponent. The Qld Government will be able to seek input and advice on assessments from Commonwealth organisations such as the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority  or the Supervising Scientist in relation to uranium mining and exploration.

Premier’s Sustainability Awards

Nominations are open for the 2014 Premier’s Sustainability Awards which recognise the achievements of Qlders who are developing or adopting sustainable practices.

Nominations close on Friday 14 March 2014. Finalists and winners of the 2014 Premier’s Sustainability Awards will be announced at a presentation dinner at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre on Friday 30 May 2014.  More information about the awards and an online application form can be found at www.ehp.qld.gov.au/premiersawards

01 December, 2013

Kagara Copper fined $120,000

Media Statements

Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection
The Honourable Andrew Powell

Friday, November 22, 2013

High penalties for failing to meet environmental standards

Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection Andrew Powell urged the resources industry to ensure any water releases comply with environmental standards ahead of the traditional ‘wet season’.
The call comes after former operator of Baal Gammon copper mine, Kagara, pleaded guilty to three charges yesterday relating to the unauthorised release of contaminated water into Jamie Creek and the Walsh River west of Herberton during the 2011/12 wet season.
“The resources industry as a whole has done a significant amount of work in relation to water management and we are seeing improvements,” Mr Powell said.
“For example, in 2010 - 2011, under the former Labor Government, the former DERM investigated 56 breaches of environmental authorities by 22 coal mines in the Fitzroy Basin. 
“By comparison, there were 25 non-compliant mine water releases from 12 mines during the 2012-2013 wet season.    
However, Mr Powell warned that any company which fails to meet high environmental standards will face severe penalties.
“The unauthorised release of mine affected or contaminated water into creeks and streams is a serious offence,” he said.
Kagara was yesterday fined $120,000 contravening an environmental protection order, unlawfully causing material environmental harm, and breaching a condition of the mine’s Environmental Authority.
In September 2013, the owner of the mine, Baal Gammon Copper Pty Ltd, was fined $80,000 in relation to the discharges.
“These matters resulted from an investigation which was initiated in early March 2012 after Kagara notified the Department that the mine experienced a release of suspected contaminated water into a nearby creek,” Mr Powell said.
“High concentrations of heavy metals, including copper, cadmium and arsenic were identified in Jamie Creek and Walsh River.
“This posed a potential risk to people living near the Baal Gammon copper mine.
 “Residents where advised not to drink water from the Walsh River at the time following the releases.
 “The Newman Government takes non-compliance with conditions of environmental authorities very seriously even if the company is in receivership,” Mr Powell said.
“Authority holders are responsible for their mine even when another company, acting under the environment authority, manages the day to day operations at the site.
“This government has made sure the owner of the Baal Gammon mine has been held to account over mine water contamination in far north Queensland, and we will not hesitate to pursue any company who fails to meet our high environmental standards during this coming wet season.”
[ENDS] 22 November 2013

Media contact: Brooke Hargraves 0458 689 043

Vegetation Management in Qld

A number of changes have occurred to Queensland’s vegetation management laws. These include:
  • the creation of self-assessable clearing codes for certain clearing activities
  • the removal of high-value regrowth regulations from freehold and Indigenous land
  • new clearing purposes for high-value agriculture, irrigated high value agriculture, and environmental clearing
  • simplified mapping
  • compliance and enforcement amendments.
Vegetation mapping has also been simplified through the creation of a state-wide regulated vegetation ‘base’ map, which clearly shows the areas of vegetation on their property that are assessable and non-assessable under the new vegetation laws.

There are other minor amendments that have been undertaken to streamline the vegetation management framework.
Several new exemptions are being introduced, while some exemptions are being broadened, or being made more consistent across different land tenures. New exemptions are being provided for the following:
  • community infrastructure as defined under the Sustainable Planning Act 2009.
  • geotechnical works and land survey works. Geotechnical works can often be a requirement in the off-lease area of resources developments
  • natural disaster events to allow clearing in response to events such as cyclones and floods, to protect human life and prevent injury, and to minimise damage to property and the environment.
The Vegetation Management Framework Amendment Act 2013 does not actually contain details of these reforms. They will require amendments to the Sustainable Planning Regulation 2009, which will occur through a separate process.
Vegetation management reforms will come into effect on 2 December 2013.

The Qld Government has also established a Protected Plants Legislation Review.

They are reviewing the legislation that manages the harvesting and clearing of Queensland’s native plants under the Nature Conservation Act 1992.

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection is inviting submissions for the final round of consultation for the protected plants legislative review.

The first stage of the review was completed with the Nature Conservation (Protected Plants) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 being passed on 16 October 2013; creating the legislative framework in the Nature Conservation Act 1992 that will now guide the clearing, harvest and trade of protected native plants in Queensland. The amendments to the Nature Conservation Act require supporting regulations and statutory instruments such as a code of practice for the taking and using of protected plants. These regulatory amendments and new statutory instruments have now been drafted for public comment.
Should you wish to comment on these amendments and the associated reforms, a copy of the amendments and the associated reforms can be obtained from the department’s website www.ehp.qld.gov.au or by emailing plants.policy@ehp.qld.gov.auSubmissions due by 9am, 16 December 2013.