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Environment and Planning: 5 Minute Fix 22: ERF. Renewables, circular economy. Planning

Environment and Planning: 5 Minute Fix 22: ERF. Renewables, circular economy. Planning

The Environment and Planning 5 minute Fix provides a quick overview of the most important information on a variety of planning and environmental issues in the country. This edition is focused on the most recent developments in climate change and energy planning.

Climate change

Commonwealth: New ERF techniques for blue carbon and biomethane plantations

The Federal Government announced four new Emission Reduction Funds (ERFs) methods to expand the use Australian Carbon Credit Units. These are now in force. The four new ERF methods are for blue carbon, plantation forest, abatement from industrial or commercial processes, and biomethane.

Blue Carbon

The blue carbon method can be used for projects in coastal wetland eco-systems that have large amounts organic carbon. ACCUs are available to eligible projects that can store carbon in soils or biomasses and prevent carbon emissions by creating coastal wetland ecosystems.

The blue carbon method became effective on 2 January 2022.

Plantation forestry

This method builds on the existing plantation-forestry method that generates ACCUs by sequestering carbon during tree growth. Four main activities can be used to generate ACCUs using this method:

  • Converting a short-rotation or long-rotation tree to a new plantation.
  • Start a new plantation forest
  • Continued rotational harvest cycles in a forest plantation;
  • Converting a forest from a plantation to a permanent forest. The plantation may be at risk of being converted to non-forested ground.

The plantation forestry method was implemented on 31 January 2022.

New industrial and commercial emissions reductions

The Industrial and Commercial Emissions Reduction method (ICER), will replace the Industrial electricity and fuel efficient (IEFE) method. The ICER technique offers new abatement opportunities such as equipment upgrades or replacements and fuel switching.

It is understood that the IEFE system will be rescinded once the Clean Energy Regulator has made arrangements with existing IEFE proponents to transfer to ICER.

Biomethane

The biomethane technique allows projects to earn credit abatement through the production of biomethane from waste methane.

The biomethane method was implemented on January 2, 2022.

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

Federal Government announced that it will test a new technology. Carbon + Biodiversity (C+B Pilot) on the National Stewardship Trading Platform. This will allow farmers in six new Natural Resource Management areas to receive a “Biodiversity payment” and carbon credits from their planting projects. The government and private entities can then buy any carbon credits that farmers have earned.

These are the six new regions that are eligible:

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

Farmers can offer to help with long-term biodiversity enhancements and ERF environmental plantings projects. It is hoped that the planting of native tree and shrub varieties will result in carbon being sequestered back into soil, thereby reducing Australia’s carbon emission.

The deadline for applications is March 3, 2022.

Commonwealth: Renewable Energy Target Liability Deadline

Liable entities must comply with their Renewable Energy Target obligations if they have made a relevant acquisition by 2021.

To comply, the liable entities must:

  • Obtain an Energy Acquisition Statement.
  • Provide large-scale generation certificates, quarter-four small-scale technology certificates, or pay shortfall fees

Liable entities are those who have acquired electricity on a grid with a capacity of at least 100 megawatts (such as electricity retailers). Additional information is available at the Clean Energy Regulator Website.

Commonwealth: NGER reporting companies have more time to opt in for the pilot scheme for disclosure

Only 14 Australian companies have opted in and other Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, companies are requesting longer time to join.Clean Energy Regulator extended the deadline to sign up for the pilot Corporate Emissions Reduction Transparency Report (CERT) on 30 January 2022. It will now be available until 15 February 2022.

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

You can find more information about the CERT scheme here and how you can opt in.

VIC: Draft guideline to manage GHG emissions released for consultation

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA), has published a Draft guideline for managing greenhouse gas emission for pubic consultation. The final guideline must 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. This guideline describes a framework for managing greenhouse gas (GHG), emissions risks to assist businesses in identifying and assessing their GHG emission risk.

Submissions to the draft guideline are due by Friday, February 9th at 5 p.m.

VIC: Draft guidelines on managing new contaminated soil 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 released the following draft guidelines to consultation. These guidelines are intended to help landowners comply these new obligations.

  • Assessment and control of contaminated land risks: A guide to meeting your duty to manage for those involved in land management (Duty to Manage Guidelines, publication 1977).
  • Guideline for notifiable contamination: Duty to notify about contaminated landGuidelines for Notifying the Authorities) (publication 2008).

Submissions to the draft guidelines are due by Friday, February 9th at 5 p.m.

Waste

VIC: The legislative instrument now includes a classification of soil that has been impacted by PFAS.

On the 20th of January 2022, Environment Protection Authority (EPA), published a Designation The Environment Protection Regulations (2021) establishes the waste classification of soils impacted by per- and poly-fluorinatedalkyl substances (PFAS impacted soil).  

The designation specifies the threshold at what PFAS-impacted soil can be excavated or generated in Victoria. It is not a priority material but can be used for fill material. The threshold prescribed in this regulatory tool for PFAS-impacted soil is as follows, which is consistent with the EPA’s Interim position statement regarding PFAS:

  • Contains PFAS containing:
    • Perfluorooctane-sulfonate (PFOS), 0.002 mg/kg
    • Perfluorohexane Sulfonate (PFHxS), 0.001 mg/kg
    • Perfluorooctanoic acids (PFOA) 0.001 mg/kg
  • PFAS and other waste not to contain under the Act, Regulations, priority waste or reportable prior waste.

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

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

The Strategy Draft outlines the Northern Territory Government’s plan for strengthening the regulatory framework for waste, pollution, transitioning to a circular economic system and encouraging economic opportunities within the circular waste industry.

The Northern Territory Government proposes legislation that would phase out single-use plastics, create a risk-based licensing system and registration scheme, as well as establish a waste acceptance policy for waste imports into Territory.

The consultation on the draft Strategy will close on 14 February 2022.

WA: End 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 began on January 20,22, prohibited single-use plastics and disposable products. However, there is a six month transition period for businesses. This allows them to use up supplies and adapt the changes to these items before enforcement starts on 1 July 2022.

The second stage of this Plan will start on January 20, 2023. It will ban plastic barriers/produce bags, plastic buds with plastic shafts and polystyrene packaging.

Energy

TAS: Have your say on Tasmania’s bioenergy vision

The Tasmanian Government released its bioenergy vision in line with its commitment to the Tasmanian Renewable Energy Action Plan. draft Bioenergy Vison for Tasmania for consultation.

The draft Bioenergy Vision describes Tasmania’s potential for producing bioenergy (i.e. energy from organic matter), and the benefits of developing Tasmania’s bioenergy sector. It also outlines the Government’s role in accelerating Tasmania’s adoption of bioenergy.

  • Bioenergy awareness in the community and industry.
  • Exploring the private sector for bioenergy deployment in Tasmania
  • Tasmanian bioenergy industry to be more mature, sophisticated, and diverse
  • To ensure that Tasmania has a favorable regulatory and operating environment for a larger bioenergy sector.

You can submit draft guidelines until 5pm on February 14, 2022, in the manner described here.

Planning

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

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

The new Regulations will provide significant changes that will be effective upon their commencement. Many of these changes are consistent with the draft regulations These documents were made available for consultation in September 2020.

Notable changes include:

  • Update application and notification requirements for development assessment processes
  • Facilitating “stop theclock” provisions, concurrence, referral procedures, and the calculation of assessment and deemed refusal times;
  • Modernizing “designated Development” categories by updating the assessment to reflect industry practice and new technology;
  • Implementing criteria-based publication for certain infrastructure proposals
  • Re-ordering and refining planning certificates to concentrate on land use and development controls that are essential to conveyancing;
  • Consent authorities will be able to recover more costs for planning services by being able to do so.

NSW: The Draft DP SEPP reveals major reforms to the planning and development systems of NSW

The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment released the following: Draft Design and Place State Environmental Planning Policy 2020 (DP SEPP), which sets out significant reforms to the planning and development systems in NSW. The DP SEPP aims at simplifying and consolidating existing design controls and introducing new features to place sustainability, resilience and quality of places at forefront of development.

The DP SEPP addresses key issues in the current regulatory framework and responds accordingly to the recommendations of the Productivity Commission’s White Paper by:

  • Consolidating and simplifying existing fragmented design guidance to a single principles-based framework policy framework allows for a reduction of uncertainty, risks and cost for developers.
  • A principles-based approach to policy planning supports innovation and better design outcomes.
  • Maximizing flexibility through the Revision of the Apartment Design Guide 2021 (ADG) and the new Urban Design Guide (UDG), which allows each guide’s objectives to be met by a “reasonable option”;
  • Developers have more flexibility in applying the proposed policy initiatives, by allowing alternative design responses to the design criteria within the draft ADG/draft UDG.

Submissions to the Draft DP SEPP and supporting guidelines can be made until 28 February 2022.

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