The Environmental Liabilities Community of Practice (CoP) has been re-established. This CoP sits under the Operations Cluster and focuses on finding common ground with jurisdictions looking for approaches to managing environmental liabilities, including the use of financial assurances.
Please welcome Joanne Stuart as the new Environmental Liabilities Chair. Joanne is the Manager of Regulatory Practice and Programs, part of the Contaminated Land Management Section at the NSW Environment Protection Agency (EPA). Joanne has worked with the NSW EPA for 20 years, her expertise includes engaging in regulatory reform in important, but not always visible, areas such as petroleum storage systems, increases in penalty amounts, and development of regulatory tools. One of her current tasks is a review and remake of the Underground Petroleum Storage Systems Regulation.
While each jurisdiction has its own challenges, the newly reconstituted Environmental Liabilities CoP aims to recognise successful approaches, learn from precedents, and share this knowledge among jurisdictions.
Issues vary in size and scope. Queensland has experience managing the environmental impacts of mining, in particular coal seam gas extraction, while Victoria has been working on financial assurances related to landfill after EPA Victoria was called to conduct clean-up operations following illegal dumping of tyres.
Financial assurances mitigate the risk of companies, such as now bankrupt Linc Energy, from walking away from environmental damage. The negligence in this instance cost taxpayers upwards of $30 million to clean up. In Victoria, an illegal tyre dump at Numurkah, saw taxpayers’ foot a $1.5 million bill. Financial assurances can cover any foreseen environmental degradation, ensuring companies take responsibility for environmental protection.
Financial assurances can take the form of a bond, commitments to undertake specific works including monitoring and maintaining containment cells, and post-closure rehabilitation. Joanne explains that a financial assurance is intended to cover the EPA's 'reasonable costs' in the event the EPA had to undertake these works. Monitoring and enforcement is ongoing, with licences to operate on land up for periodic review.
Managing environmental liabilities is only going to grow in importance and intricacy, so the relaunch of the Environmental Liabilities Community of Practice is a good opportunity for the AELERT network to discuss emerging issues and share their expertise.
If you would like to join the Environmental Liabilities CoP or find out more information, contact the Chair, Joanne Stuart through our Members Directory.
Image: Sitting in the NSW EPA Regulatory Practice and Programs Unit is the Environmental Liabilities team, with Kim Boxsell, Magdalena Paszkiewicz, Audrey Yim, and Joanne Stuart.
Following the success of the first annual Water Compliance Community of Practice (CoP) forum in November 2018, the Murray–Darling Basin Authority and the Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME) co-hosted the 2019 forum which took place in Brisbane on 22 - 23 August. A total of 53 delegates from 13 organisations, including Commonwealth and State government and water corporations attended the two day forum to share knowledge, showcase new technologies and collaborate on developments for water compliance.
The forum explored topics ranging from risk-based approaches to compliance and enforcement, the use of technology as evidence in court and approaches to learning and development. Genene O’Neill, Lead Behavioural Scientist with the Queensland Department of Environment and Science, provided an engaging key note presentation on the application of behavioural science to improve compliance outcomes.
A range of speakers from jurisdictions presented on a variety of relevant topics. Kirsty Ruddock from the NSW Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) provided valuable insights into prosecution learnings gathered in NRAR’s short but productive 16 month existence. She explained the opportunities and risks of using aerial photography, Sentinel satellite imagery, telemetry and crop yield data as evidence in prosecutions.
A highlight of the forum was the field trip to the Rocklea Technical Centre where attendees witnessed the practical testing of compliance equipment by technicians from DNRME (Qld). Testing equipment included ultra-portable gauging stations and telemetry systems transmitting flow data via the IoT (Internet of Things) network. Arran Corbett, Team Leader (Water Divisional Support Queensland), explained how rapid advancements in technology is presenting many opportunities for compliance. One such example is the opportunity telemetry has provided to increase efficiency of compliance data collection. The application of telemetry using satellite networks has removed the need for long driving hours to remote monitoring sites as staff now receive pumping or river data in the office in real time.
Regular teleconferences and the annual Water Compliance CoP forum provides a platform for water regulators to identify common challenges and issues, share operational learnings and openly discuss avenues for regulatory framework improvement. AELERT members have expressed the value of learning from collective experiences and from testing solutions within a group environment.
For more information on the Water Compliance CoP or to join, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The Environment Protection Authority Tasmania (EPA TAS) is calling for nominations for this year's EPA Sustainability Award until entries close on Wednesday 14 August 2019.
EPA Director, Mr Wes Ford said that the Sustainability Award is designed to recognize the practical efforts being made by industry and community sectors towards environmental sustainability.
“The Award is open to Tasmanian businesses, groups and organisations that have developed and implemented clean production initiatives and sustainable practices," said Mr Ford.
“The EPA is particularly keen for nominations from Tasmanian businesses wanting to demonstrate how they are helping to protect the Tasmanian environment," said Mr Ford.
Nominations are open until Wednesday 14 August 2019, and the winners will be announced at a Gala presentation on Friday 22 November 2019.