Environment and Planning 5 Minute Fix 22: ERF, renewables, circular economy, planning

03 Feb 2022
5 minutes


NSW: New Planning Regulations in New South Wales have been finalised

The New South Wales Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) have released the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2021 which will replace the current Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 on 1 March 2022.

The changes which the new Regulations will bring upon commencement cover a wide range of key planning issues, many of which are consistent with the draft regulations that were released for consultation in September 2021.

Some notable changes include:

  • updating application and notification requirements in development assessment processes;
  • simplifying "stop the clock" provisions, concurrence and referral procedures, as well as the calculation of the assessment and deemed refusal periods;
  • modernising "designated development" categories by updating the assessment in line with industry practice and new technologies;
  • introducing criteria-based publication of environmental assessments for certain infrastructure proposals;
  • refining and re-ordering planning certificates to focus on land use and development controls essential to conveyancing; and
  • allowing consent authorities to have a greater capacity to recover costs for planning services.

NSW: Draft DP SEPP reveals significant reforms to planning and development systems in NSW

The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has released the Draft Design and Place State Environmental Planning Policy 2021 (DP SEPP), which sets out significant reforms to the planning and development systems in NSW. The DP SEPP aims to simplify and consolidate existing design controls while introducing new features that place "sustainability, resilience, and quality of places at the forefront of development".

The DP SEPP also addresses key issues associated with the current regulatory framework, and accordingly responds to recommendations from the Productivity Commission's White Paper by:

  • consolidating and simplifying the existing fragmented design guidance into a single principles-based policy framework, allowing for a reduction in uncertainty, risks and costs for developers;
  • adopting a principles-based approach to policy planning, which supports innovation and better design outcomes;
  • maximising flexibility through the revised Apartment Design Guide 2021 (ADG) and the new Urban Design Guide (UDG), which allow for the objectives of each guide to be achieved via a "reasonable alternative"; and
  • allowing for alternative design responses to design criteria within the draft ADG and draft UDG, providing developers' with flexibility in applying the proposed policy initiatives.

Submissions on the draft DP SEPP and supporting guides can be made until 28 February 2022.


TAS: Have your say on Tasmania’s bioenergy vision

In line with its commitment under the Tasmanian Renewable Energy Action Plan to develop a bioenergy vision, the Tasmanian Government has released its draft Bioenergy Vison for Tasmania for consultation.

The draft Bioenergy Vision outlines Tasmania's potential for bioenergy production (ie energy produced from organic matter), the benefits of developing Tasmania's bioenergy sector and the roles the Government has for accelerating the appropriate adoption of bioenergy in Tasmania including:

  • Building industry and community awareness of bioenergy.
  • Exploring private sector opportunities to deploy bioenergy in Tasmania.
  • Developing a more sophisticated, mature, and diverse bioenergy industry in Tasmania.
  • Ensuring Tasmanian has an enabling regulatory and operating environment to support a larger bioenergy industry.

Submissions on the draft guidelines can be made until 5pm 14 February 2022 in the manner prescribed here.

Climate change

Commonwealth: New ERF methods for blue carbon, biomethane and plantations

The Federal Government has announced four new Emission Reduction Fund (ERF) methods to expand the use of Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) which are now in effect. The four new ERF methods relate to blue carbon, plantation forestry, abatement from industrial and commercial processes and biomethane.

Blue carbon

The blue carbon method applies to projects in coastal wetland ecosystems that store large amounts of organic carbon. Eligible projects can earn ACCUs by storing carbon in biomasses and soils and avoiding carbon emissions through the formation of coastal wetland ecosystems.

The blue carbon method came into effect on 2 January 2022.

Plantation forestry

This method builds upon the existing plantation forestry method, which generates ACCU's by sequestering carbon as trees grow. ACCU's can be generated under this method via four main activities:

  • changing a short-rotation plantation to a long-rotation plantation;
  • starting a new plantation forest;
  • continuing rotational harvest cycles in a plantation forest; and
  • converting a plantation forest to a permanent forest, where that plantation risks being transitioned to non-forested land.

The plantation forestry method came into effect on 31 January 2022.

New industrial and commercial emissions reduction

The new Industrial and Commercial Emissions Reduction (ICER) method will replace the Industrial electricity and fuel efficiency (IEFE) method. The ICER method introduces new abatement opportunities, such as upgrading or replacing equipment and fuel switching.

It is understood that the IEFE method will be revoked once the Clean Energy Regulator has finalised arrangements with existing IEFE project proponents for transferring to the ICER method.


The biomethane method allows projects under the domestic, commercial and industrial wastewater method, the animal effluent management method and the landfill gas (generation) method to earn credit abatement by producing biomethane from waste methane.

The biomethane method came into effect on 2 January 2022.

Commonwealth: New Carbon + Diversity (C+B Pilot) has been launched

The Federal Government has announced it will be trialling a new Carbon + Biodiversity (C+B Pilot) on the National Stewardship Trading Platform. This will allow farmers from six new Natural Resource Management regions to receive a "Biodiversity Payment" and carbon credits from planting projects. Farmers can then sell any carbon credits earned to private entities or the government.

The six new eligible regions are:

  1. Fitzroy Basin in QLD;
  2. Riverina in NSW;
  3. Goulburn Broken in Vic;
  4. Southern in Tasmania;
  5. Northern and Yorke in SA; and
  6. South Coast in WA.

Farmers can participate by offering to deliver long-term biodiversity improvements as well as ERF environmental plantings projects. It is hoped that by planting native tree and shrub species, carbon will be sequestered back into the soil, thus reducing Australia's carbon emissions.

Applications for the program close on 3 March 2022.

Commonwealth: Renewable Energy Target Liability deadline

Liable entities who made a relevant acquisition in 2021 must comply with their Renewable Energy Target obligations on or before 14 February 2022.

To comply, liable entities must:

  • lodge an Energy Acquisition Statement; and
  • provide large-scale generation certificates, quarter 4 small-scale technology certificates or pay shortfall charges.

Liable entities are those which have made a relevant acquisition of electricity on a grid which has an installed capacity of 100 megawatts or more (such as electricity retailers). Further information is available on the Clean Energy Regulator website.

Commonwealth: More time for NGER reporting companies to opt in to pilot scheme for disclosure

With only 14 Australian businesses having opted in and other companies requesting more time to join due to challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the deadline of 30 January 2022 to opt in to the pilot Corporate Emissions Reduction Transparency (CERT) report has been extended to 15 February 2022 by the Clean Energy Regulator.

CERT is a net emissions disclosure initiative that allows organisations who report more than 50 kilotonnes of emissions a year under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) scheme to disclose performance against their own emissions reduction targets.

Further information about the CERT scheme and how to opt-in can be found here.

VIC: Draft guideline for managing GHG emission released for consultation

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has released a draft guideline for managing greenhouse gas emissions for pubic consultation. The final guideline is to be released by August 2022.

The guideline provides information to businesses on how to conduct their activities in alignment with the general environment duty set out under the Environmental Protection Act 2017. The guideline outlines a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions risk management framework, to aid businesses in identifying, assessing and controlling their GHG emission risks.

Submissions on the draft guideline are due by 5pm 9 February 2022 and can be made here.

VIC: Draft guidelines for managing new contaminated land duties

The Environmental Protection Act 2017 introduced new duties with respect to contaminated land, namely the duty to manage and the duty to notify. The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has now released the following draft guidelines for consultation which are aimed at supporting landowners comply with these new obligations:

  • Assessing and controlling contaminated land risks: A guide to meeting the duty to manage for those in management or control of land (Duty to Manage Guidelines) (publication 1977)
  • Notifiable contamination guideline: Duty to notify of contaminated land (Duty to Notify Guidelines) (publication 2008).

Submissions on the draft guidelines are due by 5pm 9 February 2022 and can be made here.


VIC: Classification of PFAS impacted soil now enshrined in legislative instrument

On 20 January 2022, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) issued a designation under the Environment Protection Regulations 2021 which sets out the waste classification of soil impacted by per-and poly-fluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS-impacted soil).

The designation sets out the threshold at which PFAS-impacted soil excavated or otherwise generated within Victoria can be used as fill material and will not be a priority waste. The threshold prescribed in this regulatory tool for PFAS-impacted soil is as follows, which is consistent with the EPA’s Interim position statement on PFAS:

  • containing PFAS with a concentration not exceeding 0.004 mg/kg comprising:
    • <0.002 mg/kg of Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS);
    • <0.001 mg/kg of Perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS);
    • <0.001 mg/kg of Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA); and
  • not containing any waste, other than PFAS, classified as priority waste or reportable priority waste under the Act or the Regulations.

This designation remains in effect until 30 June 2023, unless earlier revoked by the EPA, to allow time for further scientific assessment of the thresholds to be undertaken.

NT: NT transitioning to a circular economy: have your say

The Northern Territory Government has released its draft Circular Economy Strategy 2022 – 2027: Waste as a Resource – Transitioning to a Circular Economy for consultation.

The draft Strategy outlines the Northern Territory Government's plan to strengthen the regulatory framework for waste and pollution, transition to a circular economy and encourage economic opportunities in the circular waste industry.

In particular, the Northern Territory Government is proposing to introduce legislation which phases out single use plastics, introduce a risk-based licensing and registration scheme and develop a waste acceptance criteria for importing waste into the Territory.

Consultation on the draft Strategy closes on 14 February 2022.

WA: Phase out of Single Use Plastics

The WA State Government’s Plan for Plastics has introduced Regulations to ban single-use plastic items in Western Australia, using a two-stage approach. Stage 1, which commenced on 1 January 2022, banned the use of single-use plastics and disposable items. There is however a six-month transition period for businesses, meaning that business can use up supplies and adapt to the changes related to these items before enforcement begins on 1 July 2022.

Stage 2 of the Plan will begin on 1 January 2023 and will ban plastic barrier/produce bags, cotton buds with plastic shafts, polystyrene packaging, microbeads, oxo-degradable plastics, bowl and cup lids, polystyrene cups and coffee cups.

Special thanks to Gabrielle Lawrence and Bella McNamee (Brisbane), Nick Wigney, Maisie McFadyen and Alice Brennan (Sydney), Casey Guilmartin (Melbourne) and Paris Buti (Perth) for their contribution to this edition.
Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all States and Territories.