WHO SHOULD READ THIS

  • Operators involved in beneficial re-use of ‘waste’ products and proponents preparing to carry out an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for environmentally relevant activities.

THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW

  • Changes to the beneficial re-use regime commenced on 8 November 2016. Minor changes to public notification for applications related to an EIS have been enacted.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO

  • Consider the amended legislation prior to seeking to do anything under a previous authorisation for beneficial re-use, or applying for an environmental authority relevant to an EIS.

The previous State Government passed the Environmental Protection and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2014 (Qld) (EPOLAA 2014) which received assent on 7 November 2014. Various provisions of EPOLAA 2014 have commenced since that date, including those introducing enforceable undertakings, increasing penalties under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld) (EP Act) and dealing with the use of approved auditors for matters relating to contaminated land.

The remaining provisions of EPOLAA 2014 took effect on 8 November 2016.

The provisions now in effect relate primarily to ‘end of waste’ procedures in Queensland, as well as some minor amendments primarily relevant to coordinated projects under the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1974 (Qld) (State Development Act).

Waste regime changes
EPOLAA 2014 will replace the beneficial reuse provisions in Chapter 8 of the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2014 (Qld), which deal with when and how waste ceases to be ‘waste’ and can be used as a resource.

General approvals for beneficial use are to be replaced by ‘end of waste codes’.

Specific approvals for beneficial use are to be replaced by ‘end of waste approvals’.

Under the transitional provisions, existing general approvals will be unaffected until they end or a relevant end of waste code has been made. Existing specific approvals are deemed to be an end of waste approval and will still need to be complied with.

No end of waste codes have been prepared and the new provisions are likely to have limited practical effect until any existing approvals are due to end.

It is yet to be seen whether the changes commencing on 8 November 2016 will result in increased waste reuse in Queensland, or whether the changes will simply change the terminology.

Environmental authorities for coordinated projects
Other amendments commencing on 8 November 2016 provide that standard or variation applications for environmental authorities can be made for environmentally relevant activities (ERAs) proposed to be carried out as part of a coordinated project if the Coordinator-General’s conditions incorporate the standard conditions for the relevant activity.

The provisions for public notification of an environmental authority application which has already been the subject of an EIS are also amended. Public notification will not apply where an EIS (under the EP Act or the State Development Act) has been publicly notified prior to the environmental authority application being made, provided that the environmental risks of the activity have not changed since the EIS was notified.

If the environmental risks for an activity have changed since an EIS was notified, a new provision requires only those changes to be publicly notified (and the subject of submissions). The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection will be entitled not to accept any submission, or part thereof, which deals with the parts of the activity that were already publicly notified as part of the EIS and have not changed.

Focus covers legal and technical issues in a general way. It is not designed to express opinions on specific cases. Focus is intended for information purposes only and should not be regarded as legal advice. Further advice should be obtained before taking action on any issue dealt with in this publication.