NT passes new Environment Protection Bill

A new environmental impact assessment system will be implemented in the Northern Territory, following the passing of the state’s amended Environment Protection Bill 2019.

Environment Minister Eva Lawler said the bill provides new approaches to environmental protection including environmental offsets and protected environmental areas.

“We are replacing outdated legislation and practice, ensuring we are strengthening governance and accountability for environmental decisions, supporting local jobs and providing greater certainty for the community and business,” Ms Lawler said.

“Our natural environment is one of our best assets and a huge part of what makes living in the Territory so special, good environmental policy is smart economic policy.”

According to Ms Lawler, the Environment Protection Act 2019 establishes clearer guidance on when a project must be referred to assessment for its impact on the environment, and sets out the criteria, principles and considerations by which a project must be assessed.

“This means that projects which may have a significant impact on the Territory’s environment will undergo rigorous environmental assessment, informing the decision to grant (or not) an environmental approval,” Ms Lawler said.

“It also includes provisions to ensure proponents and approval holders comply with their obligations to minimise unauthorised harm to the environment. Another first and a significant step to strengthening the environment protection regime in the Territory.”

Related stories:

Chemical and paint drop-off centres open in SA

The South Australian Government has opened new chemical and paint drop-off centres in Campbelltown, Heathfield, North Plympton and Edinburgh North.

Environment Minister David Speirs said the state government contributed more than $1 million to the centres, with local partners set to operate the facilities.

“Until now, householders could only access a depot at Dry Creek, which only opened on the first Tuesday morning of each month for three hours,” Mr Speirs said.

“The new facilities make it significantly easier for South Australian households to safely dispose of these chemicals, and I encourage everyone to take advantage of this free service.”

According to Mr Speirs, many people don’t realise the damage that can be caused when chemicals and paint are handled or disposed of incorrectly.

“Apart from the threat to our waterways and surrounding environments if flushed into our sewerage and drain systems, storing unused hazardous chemicals at home or in the garden shed can be potentially lethal if not handled properly,” Mr Speirs said.

“They can be particularly dangerous to young children who cannot yet read warning labels.”

Mr Speirs said it was important to note that some items and substances would not be accepted, such as ammunition, asbestos, tyres, fertiliser and pharmaceuticals.

“Residents are reminded to keep chemicals in their original containers where possible, and ensure they are clearly labelled and well-sealed,” Mr Speirs said.

“It is also best to place open or leaking containers in a plastic rubbish bin or bucket, and transport them in the boot of the car or a trailer making it safer for the driver and to also assist in worker safety at the depots.”

Related stories:

Comment sought for VIC EPA regulations and standards

The Victorian EPA is calling for public consultation on their revised environmental regulations and standards, which apply from July 2020.

According to EPA Executive Director Tim Eaton, the new regulations and standards are part of the Victorian Government’s modernisation of the EPA, through the recently passed Environment Protection Act.

“The new act and regulations will give the EPA more power to prevent pollution and hold polluters to account,” Mr Eaton said.

“Where the new act lays out the increased powers and responsibilities, the regulations and standards fill in the details and create certainty for duty holders to meet their obligations.”

Mr Eaton said the draft regulations outline obligations in relation to environment protection, pollution incidents, contaminated land and waste.

“As an example, the new act allows the EPA to require duty holders to be licensed, permitted or registered,” Mr Eaton said.

“The regulations then provide the detail of what activities will require a licence, permit or registration.”

The EPA and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning will review all public submissions, before releasing a public report that includes submission responses and final regulations and standards.

“We want to hear from community groups, industry, small business operators, anyone with an existing EPA licence, environmental lobby groups or any other member of the public or industry with an interest in the environment protection laws,” Mr Eaton said.

“Have your say on proposed regulations and standards that relate to waste, permissions and licences, water, noise, air and contaminated land.”

Related stories: 

New EPA Victoria CEO appointed

A new Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) Chief Executive Officer has been appointed, replacing Nial Finegan who had been in the role for four years.

Dr Cathy Wilkinson has been selected for the role, having worked with the EPA since 2015 and previously held senior leadership roles in the planning, water and environment portfolios for various state government departments.

Related stories:

She has been a member of Ministerial Advisory Committees and has provided environmental leadership for international organisations such as the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

EPA Chairperson Cheryl Batagol said Dr Wilkinson’s experience will be invaluable as the EPA continues its transformation process.

“This is an exciting time for the EPA as we consolidate our leadership team and continue working to become Victoria’s modern, agile environmental regulator,” Ms Batagol said.

“We are committed to continuing our successful engagement with our stakeholders and undertaking extensive consultation throughout this period of change and transformation.”

EPA Victoria’s focus is implementing the new powers and tools granted to them by the state government to prevent risks to the environment and human health.

Changes from the Environment Protection Act 2017 and Environment Protection Amendment Bill 2018 will require an overhaul of the EPA’s systems, services and processes by 2020.

New powers to stop polluters for EPA Victoria

New laws have been passed in Victoria which have given the EPA powers to stop pollution and protect the state’s environment.

The Environment Protection Amendment Bill 2018 has introduced a criminally enforceable General Environment Duty which requires people conducting activities that pose a risk to human health and the environment from pollution to take responsible steps to eliminate or reduce them.

Related stories:

It aims to move the focus to prevention, rather than responding to pollution after it has occurred.

The Bill substantially increases maximum penalties to better reflect the seriousness of environmental offences.

The reforms have also delivered improved clarity and flexibility, including reforms to EPA licensing and the environmental audit system.

A range of measures have been introduced to assist the EPA’s ability to protect the environment, including strengthening powers of EPA Authorised Officers to enter premises and investigate suspected breaches of the law.

Community members have also been given the ability to seek civil remedies to enforce the Environment Protection Act and regulations.

The new laws will come into effect on 1 July 2020, which will allow time to develop the regulations and guidance required to support the new laws.

Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the historic reforms were developed carefully over a number of years and will help Victoria’s environment for generations to come.

“We’re making sure Victoria’s EPA is equipped with the people, powers and resources it needs to do its job and protect Victoria’s environment,” she said.

X