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Environment and Planning 5 Minute Fix 24-: Climate change, waste, energy and environment protection
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Environment and Planning 5 Minute Fix 24-: Climate change, waste, energy and environment protection

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

Climate change

International: Sixth Assessment report from IPCC Working Group II published

The Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)  released its contribution Climate Change 2022: Vulnerability, adaptation and impacts to the Sixth Assessment Report of the IPCC on 28 February 2022.  Working Group I’s contribution focused on the scientific basis of climate change.  Working Group II’s contribution focused on the impacts of climate changes on ecosystems, biodiversity, human communities, at regional and global levels. The Working Group II focused on four core concepts.

  • Risques: The potential for adverse consequences for human or ecological systems as a result of climate-related hazards.
  • Vulnerability: The sensitivity or susceptibility to climate-related harm and lack of capacity to cope and adapt.
  • Adaptation: The process of adjustment to actual or expected climate change and its effects.
  • Resilience: The capacity of social, economic and environmental systems to cope with and respond to hazardous events, whilst maintaining their essential function and capacity for adaptation, learning and transformation.

The Working Group III will publish its contribution. It will focus on climate change mitigation and methods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Synthesis Report, which will combine the contributions from all the Groups, is due to be released in September 2022.


International: UN Environment Assembly resolutions targeting pollution and protecting nature

The 5th UN Environment Assembly was concluded in Nairobi on March 2, 2022. The UN Environment program reported that the assembly concluded with 14 resolutions aimed at strengthening actions for nature in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals.Notable are the resolutions that include agreement on the creation of an Intergovernmental Negotiating Commission, which is charged with developing an international legally binding accord to end plastic pollution and an Enhancing Circular Eco as a contribution towards achieving sustainable consumption, production, and management, as well as a panel to address the environmental dimension of a sustainable and inclusive post COVID-19 recovery.

TAS: Towards a circular economy for Tasmania

The Tasmanian Parliament approved the following two key pieces to transition to a round economy in line with other jurisdictions across Australia:

  • The Waste and Resource Recovery Act 2022 This imposes a waste levy on the entire state that encourages the diversion of materials from landfill and drives investment into alternative landfills. Materials will be more efficiently recovered from waste streams and made into valuable products. This Act was assented with Part 3 (Waste Levy), and Part 4 (Obligations, Offences) to begin on a date or days to be announced.
  • The Container Refund Scheme Act 2022 which will reduce litter in Tasmania by rewarding Tasmanians for directing their used drink containers into recycling. This Act will take effect on the date or days to be determined.

SA: The Waste Avoidance Act is now fully in force

On 1 March 2022, the remaining provisions of the Single-use and Other Plastic Products (Waste Avoidance) Act 2020, which apply to polystyrene products and oxo-degradable plastic, came into operation.

The Act prohibits certain single-use plastic products from being manufactured, produced, supplied, and distributed. As of March 2021, these products were listed as “prohibited plastic items”. This prohibition applies to:

  • A single-use plastic drinking straw
  • Single-use plastic cutlery
  • A single-use plastic drink stirrer;
  • A product or product of one class that is included in the regulations’ definition.

From 1 March 2022, “prohibited plastic products” now also includes:

  • A cup made of expanded polystyrene
  • An expanded polystyrene bowl
  • Expanded polystyrene Plate
  • A clamshell container made of expanded polystyrene.

The Act also enacted the Part 3 offence provisions that relate to the manufacture and production oxo-degradable products and the selling, supply, or distribution of these products as part of a business.


VIC: DEWLP releases the Victorian Offshore Wind Policy Directions Paper – have your say from April

DEWLP released the Victorian Offshore Wind Policy Directions Paper which outlines the vision for establishing an offshore wind sector for Victoria. Offshore wind is an important component of Victoria’s clean transition to renewable energy. The Energy Innovation Fund has almost $40 million available for the development and financing of 3 offshore wind projects.

The vision as set out in the Directions Paper, includes the Government’s commitment to deliver the initial offshore wind tranche of at least 2GW by 2032 with a longer term offshore wind targets of 4GW of offshore wind capacity by 2035 and 9GW by 2040. It is expected that the first power will be delivered from the program by 2028.

Consultation will begin next month. Feedback will be collected by visiting

Environmental protection

Commonwealth: Ten regional plans to be included in the Environmental Reform Package for Priority Development Regions

In a joint press release Sussan Ley, Minister for Environment, and Keith Pitt, Minister for Resources and Water, announced a $128.5million reform package to streamline the national environmental assessment and decision-making process. It is proposed that the reform package will involve the delivery of regional plans in priority development regions with the purpose of “protect[ing] areas of environmental significance, streamline assessments and manage cumulative impacts”. The announcement clearly explains that regional plans will remove the need to approve each project under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act), streamlining development approvals.

It is still unclear at this stage where these priority development areas will be. Professor Graeme Samuel AC however, in his Final Report of Independent Review of EPBC Act relevantly recommended that the Commonwealth should develop and implement regional plans with a focus on key Commonwealth priorities, including in biodiversity hotspots, areas foreshadowed as national priorities for economic development and areas where matters of national environmental significance are under greatest threat.

Once the “priority regions” have been identified and regional planning has been developed, it is important that you understand how this will affect your proposed developments if they are located in one.

Commonwealth: Administration under EPBC Act of threatened species and ecological community only partially effective, audit reveals

The Auditor-General of the Australian National Audit Office has completed an independent performance audit to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s (DAWE) management of threatened species and ecological communities under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

The findings of the audit are contained in the Auditor-General Report No.19 2021–22 titled Management of Threatened Species and Ecological Communities Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity with the Auditor-General ultimately finding that:

  • The EPBC Act partially enables the administration of endangered species and ecological communities.
  • DAWE can’t show it is efficient.
  • there is limited evidence that desired outcomes are being achieved, due to DAWE’s lack of monitoring, reporting and support for the implementation of conservation advice, recovery plans and threat abatement plans.

The Auditor-General made six recommendations that DAWE accepted.

  • Recommendation 1: DAWE develop a strategy to ensure that its processes for determining what should be considered for listing identify the species, ecological communities and key threatening processes that will have the greatest impact on achieving the objectives of the EPBC Act.
  • Recommendation 2: DAWE regularly review, update and implement procedural guidance, training and quality assurance arrangements, to ensure listing assessments are conducted in an effective manner that meets legislative and procedural requirements.
  • Recommendation 3: DAWE to establish arrangements to:
    • Make sure that conservation advice, recovery plans, and threat abatement programs are reviewed and updated.
    • Ensure that all reviews are done to determine if the objectives and actions have been met.
  • Recommendation 4: DAWE:
    • Set up arrangements to get assurance about the implementation of conservation advice and recovery plans.
    • You can use these results to identify conservation advices, recovery plans, or threat abatement programs that require coordination or departmental support.
  • Recommendation 5: DAWE measure its efficiency, timeliness and use of resources in listing assessments and conservation planning, and use these measures to inform a targeted approach to improving its timeliness and efficiency.
  • Recommendation 6: DAWE establish a framework for measurement, monitoring and reporting on listing assessments, conservation advice, recovery plans and threat abatement plans that includes:
    • Information on how listing assessments, the development and support of conservation plans have contributed in achieving the desired outcomes
    • aggregate output information on the department’s progress against listing assessments and the development and implementation of conservation advice, recovery plans and threat abatement plans, to better support internal decision-making; and
    • A schedule for periodic evaluation

NSW: Draft environmental regulations are available for public comment

The NSW Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently undertaken a comprehensive review of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009 (EO Regulation 2009) and the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2021 (POEO General Regulation 2021).

Following this review, EPA released a draft Protection of the Environment Operations General Regulation 2022 (Draft Regulation) for public comment, containing proposed amendments to the EO Regulation 2009 and the POEO General Regulation 2021. In addition to the Draft Regulation published by the EPA, a Statement on the Regulatory Impact (RIS), which seeks to detail the objectives and rational of the proposed changes contained within the Draft Regulation.

As stated in the RIS, the proposed changes seek to:

  • ensure the provisions of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) can be implemented in an efficient and effective manner;
  • Apply the user pays and polluter pay principles to recover the administration costs of the POEO Act, and the POEO General Regulation 2021;
  • Improve the operability and usability of the POEO General Regul 2021
  • Clarify and simplify POEO General Regulation 2021
  • Improve operation of Schedule 1 under the POEO Act and refine definitions

While the majority of the amendments are administrative in nature, one notable amendment is being considered. This amendment seeks to correct an unintended result of previous amendments made to 2019 that limited licencing requirements to “extractive” activities that present a moderate or high environmental risk and were sold only. To ensure that all extractive activity that poses a high risk to our environment is licensed and regulated, the EPA is considering amending the definition of “extractive”.

The Draft Regulation will be available for public comment until 5:00 PM, 14 April 2022. The EPA encourages submissions from individuals and businesses.

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