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EPA TAS considers proposal for wetlands leachate treatment system trial, Copping Landfill

19/02/2019

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has concluded its assessment of a proposal by Southern Waste Solutions to construct and operate a wetlands leachate treatment system trial at Copping Landfill in the Sorell municipality.


The proposal involves construction and short term operation of a wetland and biofilter system, designed to assess how effective the technology will be for treating leachate from the category B cell at Copping Landfill. The trial is expected to last 12-18 months.


The EPA Director, Wes Ford, who made the determination under delegation from the EPA Board, concluded the proposed development could be managed in an environmentally sustainable and acceptable manner, with certain conditions. The Board requires these conditions to be included in any permit subsequently granted by the Sorell Council.


“Various environmental issues were considered in the assessment, particularly management of leachate,” said Mr Ford.


“The system has been designed not to discharge to the environment and this has been made a condition of any permit granted,” he said.


“Stormwater management measures must also be implemented to prevent any discharge from overflow of the system to the environment,” Mr Ford said.
No representations were received in relation to the permit application. Public consultation was open for a 16 day period from 1 December 2018.


The proposal was considered by the Director in the context of the sustainable development objectives of the Resource Management and Planning System of Tasmania (RMPS), and in the context of the objectives of the Environmental Management and Pollution Control System (EMPCS) established by the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 (EMPCA).


The functions of the EPA are to administer and enforce the provisions of the EMPCA, to further the RMPS and EMPCS objectives and, in particular, to use its best endeavours to protect the environment of Tasmania.


The Director undertook the assessment of the proposal in accordance with the Environmental Impact Assessment Principles defined in Section 74 of the Act.
The Director’s environmental assessment report, including the environmental conditions, has been issued to the applicant and the Sorell Council for their information.


The decision by the EPA Director can be viewed on the EPA website at http://epa.tas.gov.au/assessment/completed-assessments

January Network News available

05/02/2019

The January Network News is now available online.

Hear from the AELERT Chair, Mark Gifford about our plans for 2019, read our member agency updates, relevant regulatory news stories and lots more.

Click here to read

 

JOB ALERT: Senior Advisor (NZ)

10/01/2019

Senior Advisor Regulation – 18 months fixed term

A bit about the role

Want to make a difference in protecting and enhancing our way of life and the economy?

EPA has launched an ambitious programme to focus our expertise, resources and effort on the things that matter most to the environment.  The EPA is an expanding dynamic agency, where you will have a unique opportunity to shape and build a new national RMA compliance function and enhance existing environment systems, policies and processes.

A bit about the team

The team works across EPA on the full spectrum of policy issues and has regular exposure to the Chair, the Board, the Chief Executive, senior staff and its stakeholders.  The team works across the environment systems and with multiple agencies and teams within EPA, such as the Legal, Science and Kaupapa Kura Taiao teams.

To help us do this our Regulation team is looking for a Senior Advisor to lead the policy development and operational implementation of emerging environment issues while working closely with the Climate, Land and Oceans Group on marine, resource management and other environmental issues.

A bit about you

You will have significant experience in policy development and operational implementation.  As well as being a great policy professional, you will also have a practical bent.

You also need to have passion, be able to work at pace and deliver.   You will be working on multiple complex discrete areas and issues.

A bit about the EPA

We can offer you a role within a team of about 10 people – the team sits within the wider Strategic & Regulatory Services Group.  Our offices are located in Lambton Quay and while we work hard, we also play hard and offer a various number of staff run social groups and activities like sporting teams or interest groups (lunch club; film club; gardening club).  If running on a Monday is your thing, then a group heads out around the hills running up to 8-9km.

If you have the skills and experience to do this role well and would like a fixed term agreement for 18 months, then we want to hear from you.

You must be eligible to work and live in New Zealand. The successful candidate will be required to undertake and pass criminal records and credit checks.

To view the position description click here.

For additional information please contact our HR Team on recruit@epa.govt.nz

Click Apply to submit your application now.

Closing:  5pm 31 January 2019

20-year Waste Strategy

11/12/2018

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. 

The EPA is a leader, partner, protector and often co-investor, and a forward-thinking waste strategy is needed to provide long-term solutions to ensure NSW is prepared for the future.

Through the Strategy we want to provide industry with certainty and set goals and incentives, so the right infrastructure investments are made to meet community needs.

Over the next six months we will work closely with stakeholders including local government, industry, experts and the broader community to ensure the Strategy has a robust evidence base and addresses the key priorities for waste and resource recovery for the state. 

This will include examining similar strategies in Australia and internationally to ensure our 20-year Waste Strategy is world class.

It is expected that the Strategy will be complete at the end of 2019.

The 20-year Waste Strategy will create a long-term vision and roadmap for waste and resource recovery in NSW, and include

  • New long term 20-year goals for waste generation, resource recovery and landfill diversion
  • New policy positions and strategic directions in relation to waste avoidance and resource recovery
  • A plan for new or enhanced policies and programs to improve waste collection and distribution
  • A framework for the delivery of an integrated state infrastructure network
  • An alignment of policy and regulation to achieve long-term strategic objectives
  • A plan to strengthen data quality and access

Source: EPA NSW

EPA SA 2018 State of the Environment Report released

28/11/2018

The EPA SA Board released the 2018 State of the Environment (SOE) Report for South Australia on 19 November.

This five-yearly examination assesses the state and condition of our major environmental resources and identifies significant trends in environmental quality, and shows that, while South Australia was doing reasonably well, in some areas there are serious challenges to be met.

This is the seventh SOE Report and adds emerging pressures such as those stemming from climate change to the evidence that environmental sustainability must remain at the forefront of government, business and community decision making to ensure the state’s long-term prosperity.

The report draws together data and information from many sources to provide an independent, objective and consolidated assessment of environmental trends and issues.

It provides clarity about the South Australia’s environmental risks and pressures and sets out what is being done to protect the environment.

It also serves as a reminder that our quality of life, economic success, and social fabric are all underpinned by the health of the environment.

The SOE Report covers five themes: climate, air, inland waters, land, and coast. A new feature of the 2018 report is its inclusion of opinion pieces by experts Prof Corey Bradshaw, Prof Justin Brooks and Mark Western on biodiversity, coast protection, and aquatic ecosystems.

In some, such as air quality, the reuse of wastewater and stormwater, marine health and recycling, the state is doing reasonably well.

In others, like species loss, the increase in the amount and complexity of waste, and dealing with the effects of a changing climate, including sea level rise, there are challenges to be met.

The summary report highlights cross-cutting issues considered particularly important by the EPA Board, and makes six related recommendations to help safeguard our environment into the future, with a strong focus on preparing for a changing climate.

The EPA engaged quarterly with conservation organisations, whose views helped shape the report and provided the opportunity to debate important environmental issues facing the state.

The 2018 Report will continue to be a living document used to inform decision making across all sectors, including planning, investment decisions, policy development and management actions.

Read the 2018 State of the Environment Report.

 

Queensland quarrying company pleads guilty to offences under the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003

21/11/2018

The Emerald Magistrates Court issued the company with a $188,000 fine (plus legal costs) and ordered it to pay an additional $250,000 towards restoration of the Aboriginal cultural heritage which had been harmed.

In 2015, the company undertook quarrying activities, which caused damage to Aboriginal cultural heritage at a site which formed part of a wider Significant Aboriginal Area.

The traditional owners of the area are the Karingbal People and the site is considered to be of high cultural significance to the Karingbal People being used for camping and as a resource reserve.

A licence agreement between the company and the owner of the site contained a term that the company undertake its own investigations and obtain all approvals required before commencing operations. Initial discussions were also held where the company was advised that Aboriginal cultural heritage had been identified at the site and as a part of its Management Plan, the company would liaise with a nominated cultural heritage advisor.

Despite this, the company commenced operations without taking steps to comply with the cultural heritage duty of care. The company ceased the works upon the discovery of the damage by the traditional owners.

Damage was caused to the land and whilst it was not possible to precisely quantify the physical harm, at least three Gumbi Gumbi trees were destroyed and at least 50 and likely many more artefacts were damaged or displaced. In addition, there was harm to cultural, historical, spiritual and social values.

On 2 November 2018, the defendant pleaded guilty in the Emerald Magistrates Court to two offences in contravention of sections 23(1) and 24 (1) of the Act.

The company was fined $188,000 and ordered to pay $2,519 in legal costs.

The Court also ordered that pursuant to section 27 of the Act, the defendant pay $250,000 towards the cost of repairing or restoring the Aboriginal cultural heritage at the site. No conviction was recorded.

In sentencing, the Magistrate accepted that the company did not intentionally cause harm and did co-operate with parts of the investigation, however stated:

  • the conduct was as a result of gross negligence on the part of the company especially given it was on notice that Aboriginal cultural heritage had been identified at the site;
  • no restoration work had commenced or been offered by the company;
  • the harm went beyond physical damage in the way of causing significant damage to the spiritual culture of the Karingbal People; 
  • not knowing the extent of the damage or destruction of the artefacts makes the offence more serious; and
  • deterrence, both generally and personally, was an important sentencing factor.

The outcome is a reminder of the importance in complying with the cultural heritage duty of care and the significant damage, both physical and cultural that can be caused.

Source: Queensland Department of Environment and Science

 

HOW WE NAVIGATE FULL-TIME CARE AND WORK AS A TWO MUM FAMILY

07/11/2018

Kelly Crosthwaite and her partner Beth have taken turns being full-time stay-at-home parents as well as full-time employees. She writes about how they have supported each other as a two mum family and the important role her workplace has played, in this piece republished here thanks to Grace Papers and Womens Agenda

“We’re strongly committed to ensuring we’re benefiting from all that gender equality can deliver to our workplace, communities, and to the individuals whose lives we impact. We believe achieving diversity is about more than targets. So we’re taking a holistic approach, which includes challenging the biases in our systems and providing practical support for our people.”

— John Bradley, Secretary, Department Of Environment, Land, Water & Planning, Victoria

We are a two-Mum family. My partner Beth and I have two children, a nine year-old son and a six year-old daughter. We each gave birth to one of our children – our donor is a friend and our kids know him and his own children well.  Our kids have known, since they were very young, how they were created, and our donor is involved with our family but not as a parent. Why am I sharing this with you?

It is because we feel like it is normal to talk about our family situation, and we would like other people to feel normal talking about it too.  The more easily and naturally these things can be put out in the open, then the better off our kids will be in the future.

But we’re also very conscious that not every rainbow family likes to disclose the details of how their family is put together or who is in it.  Like the rest of the population – some people are inherently private and keep that stuff to themselves.

There isn’t any right or wrong approach.  But it is something to be mindful of for rainbow families – you need to respect people’s boundaries, and sensitively work them out as you go.

Beth and I have taken turns not only in giving birth, but also in being the full-time stay-at-home parent or full-time worker. We have both worked part-time for periods within the last nine years across two states and four government agencies (State and Federal).

All those workplaces have been incredibly flexible and supportive, and we have benefitted from the great conditions and policies that government agencies implement (or at least the ones we’ve worked in).

The policies and practices that have made the most difference to us are the same ones that make a difference to any family:

  1. Parental leave: we have clearly defined access to parental leave for mothers who give birth and for non-birth parents.
  2. Flexibility: we have the ability to work part-time and to work flexibly.
  3. Job sharing: we have the opportunity to job share – this one is an important ingredient to have in the mix so that the part-timer doesn’t get delegated ‘other’ more menial work in a workplace; and that the teams that you are a part of don’t have to ‘carry’ a position.

As with all HR policies and procedures, it is the practice of them that really makes the biggest impact and the intangibles that can make or break your experience.

For me, being in a workplace, like the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning that so pro-actively deals with gender equity, means that drawing boundaries around my time is seen as a good thing not a bad thing.

Then there is your boss. He or she is one of the most important factors in navigating parenthood and career and we have been fortunate to have caring and supportive supervisors who have made things easy.

The second biggest influence is the team that you’re in.  My teams have been fun, inclusive, caring and generous – and I have benefitted from that as much as anyone else in the team.  Those people that are extra thoughtful are so important in a situation where you might be made to feel on the outside. I know that my teammates in Adelaide celebrated the birth of our son with me just as much as if I had given birth – that meant the world to me.  And taught me lessons about how to do the same for others.

 

 

 

Essential Tips for the Environmentally Conscious Landscaping Enthusiast

01/11/2018

Written by Ginger Reid; Photo by Andrea Reiman on Unsplash

While creating the most beautiful landscape you can is important to you, it doesn't trump your desire to be a friend of the environment. Mother Earth gives us a bounty of beautiful plants, flowers, fruits, vegetables, and herbs, and it's only fair that we pay her back by being as eco-conscious in our gardening practices as we can possibly be. Here's how you can adorn your home with beauty while protecting the gift of our natural ecosystems.

First and foremost, conserve water

While many think of water as a free, infinite resource, the truth is that water is one of our most precious commodities. You can't waste water and be an eco-conscious landscaper. One way to conserve water is to collect rainwater and use it to water your plants. Another way to is focus on quality soil. Both mulching and adding organic soil compounds to your existing soil helps it to retain water, which means you have to water it less frequently. Check here for more tips.

This is all especially important if your area is experiencing a drought. Part of your strategy for conserving water in drought-prone areas should involve the technique of xeriscaping, or filling your gardens with plants that require less moisture to survive. When you replace water-hungry plants with those that are less greedy, you can conserve water without really trying.

Forgo the pesticides

Nobody likes it when pests eat their plants, so it's understandable that you would want to prevent that. While chemical pesticides do work well in that regard, they are toxic to animals, pollute the water and soil, and can have adverse effects on any foodstuffs harvested from your garden. Fortunately, there are natural, eco-friendly concoctions that will get the job done. These include citrus oil, cayenne pepper mixtures, onion and garlic spray, and more.

Beyond that, you should invite birds, ladybugs, and spiders into your garden. These creatures eat other insects like aphids, which are true pests to any vegetation. There are also plants that specialize in repelling harmful critters, including basil, lavender, and lemon thyme.

Get into composting

Composting is dirty work, so you’ll want to invest in a good pair of gloves. But the benefits of home composting are far-reaching. Not only will you reduce your own landscaping waste by turning it into nutrients (the ultimate recycling effort), but you’ll reduce your eco-footprint by limiting the amount of new materials you have to purchase. You’ll want to research strategies and ratios of green (plant and veggie scraps, egg shells, grass clippings) and brown (dead leaves, cardboard, newspaper, twigs, branches) composting materials and learn how to properly layer them. But in the end, it’s a simple process.

Reduce your gas-powered tool usage

In the hierarchy of eco-friendly ways to trim and cut your home’s greenery, gas-powered devices like lawn mowers and weed-eaters reside at the bottom. Battery-powered devices are better, but not eco-perfect. Rotary (muscle-powered) devices are your smartest bet.

If you have a huge lawn with a lot of grass, a rotary mower is likely impractical. You then have two options: give in to the gas or simply reduce the amount of grass you have to mow to make it practical. The latter can be done through smart landscaping (more plants, bushes, and shrubs, less grass) and by creating elegant stone or brick pathways and patios.

When you make a decision to garden in an eco-friendly manner, you’re not just doing your part to help maintain the integrity of your local ecosystem, you’re making a small but still meaningful statement about global growing culture. Beyond that, it’s okay to think a little selfishly. Being eco-conscious and growing plants in a natural, non-wasteful way will actually improve the health of your own landscaping!

2017 South Australian Mineral Resources Regulation Report

09/10/2018

The Mineral Resources Regulation Report 2017 was released by the South Australian Department for Energy and Mining this month. The report provides an annual account of the ongoing work administered by the Department to ensure the state’s mining laws are upheld.

Transparency, accountability and benchmarking are key features of the regulatory framework for the South Australian mineral resources sector.

This annual report demonstrates to the South Australian public an assurance that the mineral resources sector is accountable to regulators, landholders and the community. It also comprises key indicators on the performance of exploration and mining companies in meeting their compliance obligations to mitigate and manage genuine environmental risks associated with their operations.

The Department for Energy and Mining is committed to responsibly unlocking the value and opportunities of our mineral resources in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner.

Further information can be found on the department's website.

If you have any queries, comments and feedback on the annual report please contact Alex Blood, Executive Director, Mineral Resources , Department For Energy and Mining

Individual fined $45,000 for illegal waste activities

05/10/2018

A Mount Morgan land owner has been convicted and fined $45,000 on charges relating to the illegal storage and handling of regulated waste on his property.

John Kevin Campion pleaded guilty to the charges in the Rockhampton Magistrates Court on 12 March 2018.

Campion was charged with carrying out an environmentally relevant activity without an environmental authority; being a generator who failed to give prescribed information to the Department of Environment and Science; wilfully failing to comply with a clean-up notice; providing false or misleading information; and wilfully and unlawfully causing material environmental harm.

Campion variously contravened the Environmental Protection Act 1994 and the Environmental Protection Regulation 2008.

The Court heard that in December 2015 a warrant was executed on Campion at his Mount Morgan property where more than 50 200-litre drums containing regulated waste were observed.

Results of sampling concluded that the drums contained hydrocarbons, organic solvents and phenols, all of which are prescribed regulated wastes.

In June 2016, Campion told the department that all regulated waste had been removed from his property, however subsequent departmental investigations showed this to be false. Campion was then issued with a clean-up notice to remove all regulated waste from his property, which he failed to comply with.

The Court was told that in July 2016, information was received that a number of 200-litre drums had been dumped in a gully near Campion’s property.
The department then relied on staff observations, DNA analysis from a cigarette butt retrieved from the gully, and samples of the drums’ contents to show that Campion had illegally dumped the drums.

In addition to the fine, Campion was ordered to pay investigation costs of $8,138.04 and legal costs of $1,500.