Win for transparency: all environmental authorities are to be published online from DEHP, but more to be done
17 February 2017
EDO Qld commends Minister Miles for undertaking to provide copies of all environmental authorities online from today, Friday 17 February 2017.
Environmental authorities are required to be made available to the public through the public register under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld) (EP Act).
CEO of EDO Queensland, Jo-Anne Bragg, praised this initiative, stating that this is a necessary step towards helping Queensland move into the 21st century in meeting community expectations that information should be provided online, making it free and easily accessible to the majority of the community.
“However, this should just be the first step in improving transparency and accountability in the decision making and regulation around environmental and community impacts in Queensland.
“Our government agencies have a duty to proactively provide information to the community. Matters of environmental interest affect all Queenslanders, and it is important that interested members of the public and advocates of environmental issues have ready access to public documentation such as EAs and enforcement tools, such as Environmental Protection Orders, online.
“This information is necessary for organisations such as the Environmental Defenders Office, whose lawyers are routinely called upon by the community to provide legal advice on environmental matters. The community needs to know if industry is complying with conditions protecting air, water and nature.
“There is also the fact that environmental approvals and compliance actions need to be undertaken in a transparent manner. This is a good start to put EAs on line, to be followed by Environmental Protection Orders.
The next needed step is to put online all public register documents, such as plans required to be submitted under the conditions of Environmental Authorities, plans of operations for mines, monitoring data, application documents and enforcement documents. Having these documents online will also save the Department and the community time and resources,” Ms Bragg said.
“Improvements to the public register under the EP Act are also needed, to ensure the community can access all monitoring data that is created to determine compliance with a condition of an environmental authority condition. Frequently conditions are being drafted in a way that prevents monitoring data created by industries from being obtained by the community, because it is not required to be given to the government.”
“The public has a right to know the quality of the air they are breathing and the water they are drinking, and the impacts to the environment that concerns them.
“We hope the Queensland Government continues this trend of working to improve transparency through ensuring increased, easier access to information relevant to proposed or existing impacts to the environment and communities.”
The media release from Minister Miles is here.