07 Feb 2019

Environment and Planning 5 Minute Fix 01

By the Environment and planning team

The Environment and Planning 5 Minute Fix gives you a snapshot of what you need to know across a range on environment and planning issues across the country. In our first edition we'll focus on a slew of changes in climate change and waste, including air standards, emissions audits, and a national waste policy.

Climate Change

Australian air standards likely to be tightened

The National Environment Protection Council has indicated that it intends to enforce stricter limits around ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide emissions. A draft variation and impact statement will be issued prior to any change.

National Energy Emissions Audit launched

The Australia Institute has launched the National Energy Emissions Audit which tracks Australia's emissions of greenhouse gases from the combustion of fossil fuels. The Audit will be published on a quarterly basis, in September, December, March and June each year. The first National Energy Emissions Audit of 2019 shows renewable energy displacing black coal power generation for the first time, as part of the largest ever year-on-year growth in renewables generation the NEM has seen.

Australia's safeguard mechanism – guide

A guide has been published explaining Australia's "safeguard mechanism". The safeguard mechanism is one of the key components of the Emissions Reduction Fund, the Australian Government’s central emissions reduction policy tool. The objective of the ERF is to help achieve Australia's greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets of 5% below 2000 levels by 2020 and 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The key aim of the safeguard mechanism is to ensure that emissions reductions purchased through the ERF are not displaced by significant increases in emissions elsewhere in the economy.

ACT launches new programs for energy efficiency

The ACT's Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability has announced that the ACT's Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme will be expanded to include several new programs and will be extended by 10 years to 2030. Improvements to the scheme are intended to optimize environmental and social outcomes, focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well as lowering energy bills for low income priority households. A consultation report and online survey on the proposed new EEIS are available at the EEIS website.

Industry body releases clean energy policy directives to NSW Government

The Clean Energy Council has made its policy recommendations regarding renewable energy and energy storage available to the NSW Government. Key recommendations include establishing a 2030 clean energy target, introducing state reverse auctions for renewable energy purchases (as some other Australian jurisdictions have done already) and developing a transmission investment strategy for new renewable energy zones.

New Queensland guideline - vegetation management and the Emissions Reduction Fund

The Queensland Government has issued a new guideline addressing the overlap between Queensland's vegetation management framework and the Australian Government's financial incentives for the management of native vegetation through the Emissions Reduction Fund.

Queensland biodiversity and ecosystems the focus of climate change agenda

Queensland has launched the Biodiversity and Ecosystems Climate Adaptation Plana plan for the adaptation of Queensland’s biodiversity and ecosystems to combat the effects of climate change. The plan identifies priority measures for the management of climate change impacts on Queensland's unique biodiversity and ecosystems, and is the sixth sector adaptation plan to be launched under the Queensland Climate Adaptation Strategy.

SA State of the Environment Report 2018 released

The SA State of the Environment Report 2018 has been released by the EPA, providing an assessment of the State Government's efforts to address significant environmental issues. Regarding climate change, the EPA recommends that the state government review SA's climate change response to ensure that climate risks are adequately embedded into planning and investment by government agencies, and also review the monitoring of the South Australian coast and sea levels and assess how it informs policy to ensure planning for development, infrastructure and beach management adequately accounts for risks from climate change.

Public consultation phase on proposed amendments to Tasmania's Climate Change Act now complete

Tasmania's Climate Change (State Action) Act 2008 (Tas) sets the Tasmanian Government's legislative framework for action on climate change and is currently undergoing its required four-yearly independent review. The public consultation phase of the review has now concluded and submissions received are accessible on the Government website. Amendments to the Act will now be drafted, taking into account the consultation feedback. There will be further opportunity to comment on the draft Amendment Bill later in 2019.

Victorian Energy Efficiency Target Regulations 2018

The Regulations came into force on 10 December 2018, with some exceptions that come into operation on 1 March 2019. The Regulations are made under the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target Act 2007, which provides the legislative basis for the Victorian Energy Upgrades program, a market-based incentive mechanism to encourage improvements to the energy efficiency of residential homes and non-residential premises. Among other things, the Regulations set out the activities attracting incentives under the program, the methodologies for calculating associated greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and the shortfall penalty rate for energy retailers that fail to meet program targets.

WA to develop new climate policy over next 12 months

The WA Government has confirmed plans to develop a new climate change policy. The State's previous climate change strategy was released in 2012 "in the context of a national carbon price," said Environment Minister Stephen Dawson. The Minister stated that Western Australia was particularly exposed to impacts from national GHG policies because of its energy-intensive, resource-based economy and was vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation's Climate Change Unit will co-ordinate development of the new policy over the next 12 months.

Waste

2018 National Waste Policy released

An updated National Waste Policy has been released, having been agreed to at the Eighth Meeting of Environment Ministers in December 2018. According to their Agreed Statement, the Policy is "based on ‘circular economy’ principles, recognising the economic and job opportunities in re-circulating valuable resources within the Australian economy." The Ministers agreed to develop a national action plan by their next meeting to implement the 2018 National Waste Policy, addressing the Environment Ministers' waste priorities. These include plastic pollution reduction, supporting industry development, increasing demand for recycled materials. It was also agreed to consult on new draft guidance on PFAS and pursue changes to the Ambient Air Quality NEPM standards for ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide, key air pollutants.

NSW 20-year Waste Strategy

The NSW EPA is leading the development of a 20-year Waste Strategy for NSW in partnership with Infrastructure NSW. The strategy will set a 20-year vision for reducing waste, driving sustainable recycling markets and identifying and improving the state and regional waste infrastructure network. It is expected that the strategy will be complete at the end of 2019.

NSW revises the regulation of the Construction and Demolition waste industry

Amendments to the Protection of the Environment Operations Legislation Amendment (Waste) Regulation 2014, as well as to the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1979 have been made, establishing more rules and higher standards for waste operators in the Construction and Demolition waste industry. See our Insights article for more information.

NSW makes legislative changes to management of asbestos waste and releases the draft asbestos strategy

A number of offences have now been created relating specifically to asbestos waste, with increased penalties. Additionally, the NSW Government and the NSW Environment Protection Authority exhibited the draft "NSW Asbestos Waste Strategy 2018-22" which proposes ways to promote lawful disposal of asbestos while addressing ways to reduce illegal dumping and improper disposal. See our Insights article for more information.

Queensland End of Waste Codes

End of Waste Codes for sugar mill by-products, foundry sand, coal combustion products, coal seam gas drilling mud and biosolids commenced on 1 January 2019. The codes are part of the End of Waste framework, established under the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011 (Qld).

Queensland changes regulated waste classification and implements new waste-related ERA framework

The Environmental Protection Regulation 2008 was amended in late 2018 to update the classification of regulated waste and revise the waste-related environmentally relevant activities. The amendments rationalise regulation for low-risk activities, are designed to encourage innovative waste technologies and provide an incentive to treat waste. Not all of the amendments have yet commenced. See our Insights article for more information.

Queensland waste levy price and start date announced

The Queensland Government has announced that the new waste levy will commence on 1 July 2019, with charges starting at $75 per tonne. The start date of the levy has been delayed from its projected start date of March 2019.

SA waste reform

Administrative changes to prescribed activities of environmental significance under the Environment Protection Act 1993 were made by the Governor on 17 January 2019 and will come into effect on 1 June 2019. The current classifications for waste management and related activities in Schedule 1 of the Environment Protection Act are to be replaced with new provisions. Further information can be found here.

SA State of the Environment Report 2018 on waste

The SA EPA has recommended in the State of the Environment Report 2018 that the State Government advocate for co-ordinated national action to reduce waste, including through regulation of packaging, providing leadership in the strengthening of the local resource recovery industry, including through green procurement, and strengthening education and behaviour change initiatives aimed at reducing waste.

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Disclaimer

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.