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Environment law and policy tracker

Thursday, 06 June 2019 3:48pm

Highlights include a new mine rehabilitation bill, several court rulings, and new grant opportunities. Jobs include head of energy strategy in Victoria, head of waste licensing in WA, and a green hydrogen role.

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Upcoming events:

  • Australian energy week A June 11 to 14 conference and exhibition in Melbourne.
  • Adapting climate science for business A June 13 evening seminar in Sydney, with speakers including Andy Pitman.
  • Climate essentials: A short course A June 17 one-day course in Canberra, offered by the ANU Climate Change Institute.
  • Human health risk assessment A June 17 and 18 workshop in Sydney, hosted by CRC CARE.
  • Innovation needs for two degrees A June 19 lunchtime briefing in Canberra, featuring Energy Transitions Commission commissioner Robert Trezona.
  • Safeguard mechanism A series of two-hour briefings in major cities (June 19 to 27), hosted by the Clean Energy Regulator.
  • Mined land rehabilitation A June 19 to 21 conference in Newcastle, hosted by CRCCARE.
  • Human health risk assessment A June 24 and 25 workshop in Melbourne, hosted by CRC CARE.
  • Healthy waterways: Environmental contamination and management of aquatic resources A June 24 symposium in Sydney, with speakers including Joe Pera and Dr Lisa Golding.
  • Human health risk assessment A June 27 and 28 workshop in Perth, hosted by CRC CARE.
  • The state-of-energy-research conference A July 3 and 4 conference in Canberra, hosted by the Energy Research Institutes Council for Australia.
  • Carbon farming conference and expo An August 5 to 8 event in Albury, hosted by Carbon Farmers of Australia.
  • Waste-to-energy conference An August 26 to 28 conference in Canberra, hosted by the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association.


  • Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor today released the latest quarterly update on national emissions, showing an increase of 0.8% in the 2018 December quarter. Emissions for the year to December 2018 are up 0.7% on the previous year.
  • Court ruling: An insulation industry class action has failed to secure damages from the federal government over the early axing of the Rudd government's $2.45 billion 'pink batts' scheme (see background here).
  • The Department of Health has extended to June 30 the deadline for participating in its voluntary blood testing program, for individuals who have worked or lived at several PFAS-affected Defence bases.
  • The Australian Energy Market Operator has released a final report and information guidelines for its register of distributed energy resources, which will operate from later this year. The register will increase visibility about where these resources are connected and what forms they take.
  • Have your say!: Submissions close August 7 on the impact statement and draft variation to the Ambient Air Quality National Environment Protection Measure (see background here).
  • New resource: Emission reduction pledges made by Australian businesses and organisations will soon be listed on a single national database, under a new ClimateWorks Australia initiative (see background here).
  • New resource: A new PwC report on mining industry trends concludes the world's top 40 mining companies are good at sustainability reporting, but lag their oil and gas peers in acting on climate change (see background here).
  • Labor's Terri Butler is the new shadow minister for environment and water (see background here).
  • Closing soon!: Applications to accredit new ERF projects must be lodged with the Clean Energy Regulator by June 11 if they are to be used for bids into the next ERF auction (see background here).


  • Have your say – last chance!: The state government is seeking comments by June 17 on its resource recovery industries draft 10-year roadmap and Action Plan by June 17.
  • Professor Masakazu Sugiyama has been appointed as the state's hydrogen envoy in Japan during the World Hydrogen Technologies Convention in Tokyo.
  • The Queensland Competition Authority has set the solar feed-in tariff for regional customers in FY20 at 7.842 cents per kilowatt hour, down from 9.369 c/kWh the previous year, due mainly to a fall in wholesale energy costs.
  • Court ruling: The government is appealing against a Supreme Court ruling that invalidated a regulation mandating the use of licensed electricians to install PV panels on solar farms, with a hearing scheduled for tomorrow (see background here).
  • Grant opportunity: Applications will be accepted from July 1 for grants under the state government's new hydrogen industry development fund (see background here).
  • Grant opportunity: The state government is inviting applications by July 2 for a share in $1.5 million in grants for projects to protect threatened species, with individual grants of up to $100,000 available.


  • The Office of Environment and Heritage is inviting tenders to conduct a review of flood modelling approaches and the influence of climate change on flood sensitivity in NSW.
  • The EPA has released container deposit scheme guidance on the container approval process, as well as on obligations for retailers and suppliers.
  • Grant opportunity – last chance!: The EPA is offering business recycling grants as a part of its six-year $5.46 million Circulate program, for projects recovering materials that would be otherwise sent to landfill. Applications close on June 28, with a total of $2.5 million available.
  • Sydney's Inner West Council has become the first NSW council to be 100% divested from fossil fuels, fulfilling a commitment made in 2017.
  • Court ruling: The Land and Environment Court has fined a cotton farmer $300,000 for extensive clearing that caused significant environmental harm and was carried out for financial gain (see background here).
  • Award opportunity: Nominations are due by July 1 for the annual Green Globe awards that will recognise sustainability leaders across 12 categories.
  • The Sydney Opera House has signed a seven-year renewables Power Purchase Agreement with energy retailer Flow Power, after launching a tender process a year ago (see background here).
  • The EPA has issued a prevention notice to a resource recovery facility after discovering large stockpiles of waste glass at its Bomaderry premises (see background here).
  • The state government has purchased a six-hectare site under the Coastal Lands Protection Scheme to expand the Mambo Wetland.
  • Have your say – last chance!: Submissions are due by June 14 on a proposed update of the state's regulation on underground petroleum storage systems (see background here).
  • Grant opportunity: The EPA is inviting applications by June 27 for a share in $2.6 million in grants for projects to improve organic waste collection. Grants of up to $1.3 million are available to councils for residential collection projects, with up to $500,000 on offer to companies and councils.


  • Grant opportunity: Applications close June 26 for the third round of the state's Community Zero Emissions Grants, with a total of $163,000 available for community-led projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Have your say!: The government is inviting comments by July 3 on a draft environment code of practice for automotive industries.
  • Have your say!: The government is inviting comments by July 10 on the management of invasive animals, including proposed changes to the Pest Animals Declaration and Exempt Animals Declaration.
  • Have your say!: Comments are due by the end of July on a new discussion paper on single-use plastics (see background here).


  • A panel led by former federal climate change minister Greg Combet today recommended that Victoria aim for up to a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Comment closes on July 22 (see background here).
  • Statutory development: The state government has introduced the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Bill, which would establish the Mine Land Rehabilitation Authority, provide for the rehabilitation of declared mine land, and create a Declared Mine Fund.
  • Statutory development: Debate is continuing in the Legislative Assembly on the Water and Catchment Legislation Amendment Bill.
  • The Legislative Council has backed a motion by new independent MLC Dr Catherine Cumming calling on the government to do more to keep organic waste out of landfill and to enable all councils to implement food waste collection services.
  • Have your say!: The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning is inviting comments on regional renewable energy strategies in the Hume, Grampians, Loddon Mallee and Barwon South West regions.
  • Tribunal decision: The VCAT has refused to grant Alinta a planning permit to build a 43.2MW 12-turbine wind farm because of its impact on an airfield and its proximity to a roosting area for a critically endangered bat (see background here).
  • The National Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association has warned that a new review of the waste and recycling industry should lead to a hike in landfill levy rates, or the state will become a dumping ground for NSW waste (see background here).
  • Grant opportunity: Applications close on June 21 for the junior Landcare and biodiversity grants scheme, which provides grants of up to $5,000 for grassroots programs that protect or develop the territory’s native flora and fauna, or educate youth in caring for the natural environment.
  • Have your say!: The government is inviting comments by June 30 on the management of forests through the modernisation of the five Regional Forest Agreements.
  • Award opportunity – last chance!: Nominations are due by June 13 for the Premier's Sustainability Awards that will recognise individuals, organisations, governments and businesses contributing to sustainable practices, with an ‘environmental volunteering’ category added.
  • Have your say – last chance!: Comments are due by June 12 on Meatworks Australia's application for a new abattoir in Gillieston.
  • Grant opportunity – last chance!: Applications close June 12 for Victorian Landcare grants of up to $20,000, with a total of $1.76 million on offer.


  • The EPA and associate professor Sebastien Meffree have released their reviews of a research paper that reported metal contamination from nearby mining activities in in lake sediments in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
  • Have your say!: Submissions are due by September 21 to a review of the Aboriginal Heritage Act.

South Australia:

  • Court ruling: The Environment, Resources and Development Court has fined the director of an earthmoving company $21,000 for mining limestone without authorisation.
  • Premier Steven Marshall has announced the state government will commit $52.4 million in the 2019-20 State Budget to tackle coastal erosion.
  • The state's energy efficiency scheme isn't effectively reaching large energy users, and unnecessarily restricts return visits to sites that have already benefited from the program, according to AGL (see background here).
  • Grant opportunity: Applications close August 2 for round one grants under the Greener Neighbourhoods program, with a total of $1 million available to Adelaide councils to increase tree canopy and green cover.

Western Australia:

  • The EPA has released the environmental scoping document for Woodside's proposed North West Shelf project extension.
  • Petrochemical company Perdaman's proposed urea plant will release 700,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas annually, but chairman Vikas Rambal argues there is a good reason why it shouldn't have to buy carbon offsets (see background here).
  • Have your say! The Department of Water and Environment Regulation is inviting comments by August 16 on its proposed compliance and enforcement policy.
  • Have your say!: Comments will open on Monday on EPA's greenhouse gas guidelines, with submissions closing on September 2.
  • Have your say!: The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation is seeking comments by July 24 on proposed changes to waste regulations that would require the use of weighbridges at levy-liable landfills.
  • Have your say!: Comments are due by July 12 on a new discussion paper on single-use plastics (see background here).

Northern Territory:

  • Have your say - last chance!: Submissions are due by June 14 on the Environmental Protection Bill 2019, which is currently before the Policy Scrutiny Committee for inquiry and report.
  • The EPA has released new guidance for proponents on stakeholder engagement, following the release of a draft version last December (see background here).
  • Have your say!: Comments are due by June 21 on 'No-Go Zones' for petroleum exploration proposed by the government.

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