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Environment and Planning 5 Minute Fix 25, Climate Change, Waste, Energy and Environmental Protection
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Environment and Planning 5 Minute Fix 25, Climate Change, Waste, Energy and Environmental Protection

The Environment and Planning Five Minute Fix gives you a quick overview of key information on a range planning and environment issues across the country. This edition covers the most recent developments in climate change, energy, and environmental protection.

Climate change

International: Working Group III climate mitigation contribution finalised to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Working Group III, released its contribution Climate Change 2022: Mitigation Climate Change to the Sixth Assessment Report of the IPCC on 4 April 2022.

Working Group I dealt with the physical scientific basis of climate changes, while Working Group II dealt with climate change impacts and adaptation. More information about Working Group II is available. Here.

Working Group III now provides an overview of climate mitigation progress and examines global emissions sources. The report covers the following major developments:

  • The changing international landscape and the importance of international cooperation, finance, and innovation
  • Diverse approaches and actors to mitigation
  • The connection between climate change mitigation strategies and development pathways;
  • There is an increasing variety of analytical frameworks from multiple disciplines such as the social sciences.

The Sixth Assessment Report product, the Synthesis Report, will include the three Working Group reports, as well as the three Special Reports. It is expected to be published in September 2022.

NSW: NSW IPC determines that it is not “reasonable or appropriate” to require mines to offset all emissions

The NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC). Conditional consent has been granted to Whitehaven Coal for its Narrabri Underground Mine Stage 3 Extension Project which extends existing mining operations until 2044 (the Project), deeming it in the public interest to do so.

Its Statement of Reasons, the IPC stated that the Project was not inconsistent with ecologically sustainable development principles, Australia’s Paris Agreement obligations nor with State or Commonwealth policies and further noted that greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) reductions policy positions must be balanced with the strategic importance of continued mining operations for the NSW economy.

The IPC found that “the Project’s Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions have been estimated using the recommended methodologies consistent with current national and NSW policy settings and commitments”, with Whitehaven Coal required to offset any GHG emissions that exceed specific performance measures as set by the IPC.

With regards to Scope 3 emissions, the IPC acknowledged “that while the Project’s Scope 3 emissions would contribute to anthropogenic climate change, they are more appropriately regulated and accounted for through broader national policies and international agreement (such as the Paris Agreement).”


VIC: Let’s have your say about the approach to banning single-use plastic products

The draft Environment Protection Amendment (Banning Single Use plastic Items) Regulations 2022 by the Victoria Government and the Regulatory Impact Statement, (RIS) have been released for public review by the Government of Victoria.

The new Regulations aim to amend the Environment Protection Regulations 2020 to prohibit the supply, distribution, or provision single-use plastic items, including:

  • Drink straws
  • Cutlery includes knives, forks and spoons, chopsticks as well as forks, spoons and spoons.
  • plates;
  • Take a few sticks or stirrers;
  • Expanded polystyrene food service products, including plates, cups and bowls made of clam shells, as well as any cover or lid, include:
  • Drink containers made of expanded polystyrene, including any lid or cover;
  • cotton bud sticks.

The proposed ban on sale and supply of these products will take effect from 1 February 2023 (subjected to exemptions). As set out in RIS, the Government is currently considering two options to implement this ban on “integrated articles”.

A “integrated item” is a plastic item that has been created by a machine automation process.

  • A part of packaging material that seals or contains food or beverages.
  • Included in or attached at packaging material used to seal food or beverage, including pre-packaged portions.

The Government is currently considering the following options:

  • option 1 – ban of items, with an exemption for “integrated items” until 31 December 2025. This option is preferred by the Government because it avoids the implementation risk associated with banning “integrated articles” starting 1 February 2023;
  • option 2 – ban of items, with no exemption for “integrated items”.

You can provide feedback on the draft Regulations or RIS until 11.59pm on Sunday 15 May 2022.


Commonwealth: Third time’s a charm? Minister’s latest bid to expand ARENA’s remit beyond renewable technologies

Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, MP, has gazetted Australian Renewable Energy Agency Amendment (Clean Energy Technologies Regulations) 2022 which is to amend the Australian Renewable Energy Agency Regulation 2016 to include a new function for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to support clean energy technologies. Clean energy technologies are energy efficient, low-emissions, and renewable energy technologies. This is defined in section 60 (Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act 2012).

The Minister has previously attempted to expand ARENA’s remit beyond renewable technologies on two previous occasions, only to have those attempts blocked by Senate disallowance motions.

Unless otherwise prohibited, ARENA will be allowed to provide financial assistance under the new Regulations for a variety of clean energy-related activities, including research, development, demonstration, commercialisation, deployment, storage, and sharing of information and knowledge regarding clean energy technologies.

Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG).

Commonwealth: Australian Accounting Standards Board develops Sustainability Standards: Your voice

Following the International Sustainability Standards Board’s (ISSB) work in developing standards to address disclosures of climate-related and sustainability related financial information, the Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) is looking to use the ISSB standards (currently released as an exposure draft for consultation) as a foundation to develop a specific set of standards that are fit for the Australian context.

To inform its own submission on the exposure draft and any possible future development of a separate suite of Australian sustainability reporting standards, the AASB is now requesting comments on the ISSB’s Exposure Drafts IFRS S1 General Requirements for Disclosure of Sustainability-related Financial Information and IFRS S2 Climate-related Disclosures Jusqu’au 15 July 2022


NSW: Design and Place SEPP won’t be introduced

After consultation with the industry and stakeholder groups during the public exhibition period last year, Anthony Roberts, NSW Planning Minister, has indicated that he will not introduce the Design and Place State Environmental Planning Policy.. The DP SEPP was labelled by Mr Roberts’ predecessor, Rob Stokes, as “NSW’s first comprehensive design policy”, and proposed requirements for new commercial buildings to be net zero carbon emissions from the outset, electric vehicle charging stations to be installed in apartment blocks, minimum tree cover for housing developments and the development of more walkable suburbs.

Environmental protection

Commonwealth: The new way forward now live – streamlining the EPBC Act referral process

The new EPBC Act Business Portal is officially live having replaced the Online Services EPBC Referral form. The new features include an autofill tool to eliminate duplicate efforts, greater transparency through an online listing of assessments and status. Proponents can track their progress and receive notifications about changes. Additionally, the EPBC Referral form has been simplified and automated, allowing for a more efficient process.

Existing valid referrals, assessments, and approvals have been migrated over to the EPBC Act Business Portal. Proponents will need to create a new account in order to access the relevant project. Proponents will need a new account to access the EPBC Act Business Portal and to create draft unvalidated referrals.

For more information on the new Portal, please visit this link.

VIC: New Environment Reference Standard (NEARS) for ambient air quality gazetted

The Victorian government approved amendments to the Constitution of 29 March 2022. Environment Reference Standard (ERS)Made under the Environment Protection Act 2017, to improve ambient air quality to (among other things) include tightened air quality standards in ozone (O3) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), as well as sulfur dioxide (SO2). The amendments adopt even more stringent standards for both ozone and sulphur dioxide, which EPA Chief Executive Lee Miezis has stated is in recognition of Victoria’s ““An increasing number of people, particularly those over 65”

An ERS is a reference that decision-makers can refer to during the decision making process.

  • Specific obligations must be met
  • Set forth enforceable compliance limitations; or
  • Describe the acceptable levels at which it is permissible to pollute.

You can find more information about how an ESR is applied and what decision-makers will consider here.

VIC: Victorians are asked to share their views on the 2035 emission reduction target

Victoria’s Climate Change Act 2017 set a target of net zero greenhouse emissions by 2050 and required that the Government set short term targets to reach this goal. The following short term goals have been set. A 2035 goal will be set by 31 March 2023.

  • 2020 Target – cut emissions by 15-20% below 2005 levels;
  • 2025 Target – cut emissions by 28-33% below 2005 levels; and
  • 2030 Target – cut emissions by 45-50% below 2005 levels.

A panel of independent experts was consulted by the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change. They were asked to recommend a target for 2035, best actions to achieve it, and possible routes to net zero emissions in 2050.

The Panel is now Looking for The Victorians’ views will be used to inform the Minister’s advice until 22 May 2022. Submissions can be made in writing or via a survey.  It is understood that the Panel will prepare a report by 1 March 2023 after consultation.

TAS: Legislative modifications for cleaning up “clean fill” are now in effect

TAS: Legislative modifications for cleaning up “clean fill” are now in effect

On the 29th March 2022, amendments to the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 (EMPCA) Environmental Management and Pollution Control (Waste Management) Regulations 2020 that relate to “cleanfill” were made.

  • “clean fill” is now split into two types – type 1 relates to natural materials and type 2 relates to construction materials;
  • Clean fill is now subject to the waste regulations. It must be disposed of according to legislation. As such, clean fill cannot be disposed of on land without permission from a relevant authority (such a permit) or according to an Approved Manage Method (AMM). In the interim, it is expected that there will be a public consultation on clean fill management. AMM temporary for clean fill is currently in place until 31 March 2023 to allow small-scale uses to continue during the transition period without the need to apply for a permit or other authority; and
  • The Director can issue a statement indicating the make-up and composition of “cleanfill” material.

NSW: New guidance is released to ensure best practice in Biodiversity Assessment Reports

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment released the following: Guideline for the Biodiversity Assessment Report Template which is a tool for Accredited Assessors and Local Government officers to use when preparing or assess Biodiversity Development Assessment Reports (BDARs). This comprehensive guidance contains information on a BDAR Template and linkages with the Biodiversity Assess Method, operational manuals, as well as other resources and guidelines related to BDARs. This template outlines minimum requirements for a BDAR prepared in accordance the Biodiversity Assess Method 2020. It is intended for best practice in handling BDAR documents.

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