Last Updated: May 17, 2017

What’s Happening

Please make a donation today: A healthy environment depends on all of us.

17 May 2017

We all depend on a healthy environment.
And a healthy environment depends on us.  

Please make a tax-deductible donation to EDO Qld today at www.edoqld.org.au/donate

Canungra Creek, Qld

Dear friends of EDO,

Do you remember the first time you had a personal connection with nature? And the moment you twigged that you are not separate from, but part of nature? Perhaps at the beach, bushwalking or encountering a native animal in the wild.

I certainly do. For me it was as a child, walking amongst the fragrant living bush, as well as feeling the cool embrace of the ocean when I first plunged into its chilly waters. I felt connected to the trees, to the oceans and to the animals that live amongst us. I believe that we have a responsibility to protect them and the clean air and water we all share.

We’ve known for years the damage we’re causing to our precious environment. Yet here I am, writing to you in 2017, asking you to urgently support us in helping people like you to use the law to protect the environment we are a part of – and upon which we all rely and depend.

The slow progress of our politicians and business leaders is frustrating; but rest assured all hope is not lost. Your dedicated and experienced EDO Qld lawyers take on the David-and-Goliath legal fights that many members of the community feel powerless to influence without us.

We’ve spent the last 25 years empowering the community to use the law to protect the environment, and we are most certainly not backing down now when we are needed most! But know we need every dollar that you can spare to help us even out an unbalanced playing field.

We are excited to announce that our dollar matching is back! Every dollar you donate to EDO Qld (up to a maximum total of $20,000) will be matched by a generous donor. (For example, if you donate $100, EDO Qld will receive $200!)

Will you please make a donation to EDO Qld today to help even the scales between well-resourced corporate interests and the community’s underfunded legal voice?

Thanks to your support to date, we have an outstanding track record in helping communities bring legitimate and considered environment and planning cases before the courts.

We are the community’s legal voice for the environment – from protecting vital water resources, to standing up for our Great Barrier Reef in the face of dangerous climate change.

Outside of court we’ve been there for you too (and thousands of other Australians), guiding you through law and policy changes, providing free legal advice and information, offering free community legal education, and giving you a voice at government and industry roundtables.

Right now, we urgently need your support to take the next steps to winning the legal fight for our environment. In the next year we plan to:

  • Continue to run landmark climate cases;
  • Push for stronger laws to legislate renewable energy targets and remove legal barriers to clean energy;
  • Advocate for laws to protect wildlife, wild places, water quality and vegetation;
  • Hold industry and government to account on decisions that affect us all (like the legal changes to support the controversial Adani project); and
  • Stand up for the Great Barrier Reef.

You’ve likely already seen a number of appeals asking for donations. We know it can be hard to tell where your donation will make the most impact. Believe me when I tell you that we make every dollar count! In fact, for every dollar you give to EDO Qld, the community gets at least $8 worth of legal services.

Please, will you make a tax-deductible donation to your EDO lawyers before 30 June so we can continue to use the law to fight for  the environment?

As the voice of quality journalism dwindles, and our environment faces more attacks from many directions, now more than ever it’s vital that EDO Qld lawyers are there to expose the truth.

Please join me in supporting our non-profit work. With your support we’re confident we can do what’s needed. But if we can’t raise a minimum of $100,000 by 30 June, we’ll have to make tough decisions on the actions we can take in the coming year.

Besides a modest amount of funding from the State Government, our work relies solely on you. With a State election looming; it’s important we fight to keep, and even strengthen, our environmental laws.

Nowhere other than independent EDOs can supply the skills and legal expertise needed by the community to protect precious nature.

Are you ready to stand-up with us? Make a donation today at www.edoqld.org.au/donate

Yours sincerely,

Jo-Anne Bragg

CEO/Solicitor

Environmental Defenders Office (Qld) Inc

PS. This really is a time for big decisions. Before 30 June, please choose to support EDO Qld by helping us reach our target of $100,000. As we near the end of the financial year, it’s time to consider your upcoming tax returns: any money wisely gifted now may pay off with a helpful deduction!

Positions Vacant at EDO Qld

16 May 2017

Queensland’s leading Community Legal Centre for the environment is seeking two people to join the team at our exciting new headquarters in West End Brisbane: a part time Fundraising and Events Officer, and a full time Administrative Assistant.

 

FUNDRAISING AND EVENTS OFFICER – part-time

Are you a dedicated and passionate Fundraising and Events whiz? Use your skills to help the environment, with a leader in the field.

You will be a valued and appreciated member of the EDO Qld team, essential to continuing our 25-year legacy of using legal expertise to address some of the biggest environmental problems faced by communities today.

Your main role will be to support our Fundraising and Communications Manager, so that our broad range of community legal events and fundraising campaigns run smoothly to reach their full potential. The hours (21 hours per week) are flexible for the right person and will require the some weekends or nights when events are on.

If you have strong experience in events organisation and fundraising; excellent (and innovative) communication skills; and a can-do proactive problem solver mentality that will see you effectively manage relationships and meet strong deadlines, we would love to hear from you.

For details of how to apply, read the position description and selection criteria here.

Applications must be received by COB Friday 26 May 2017.

Two referees who are happy to be telephoned to discuss your most recent experience must be provided. No hard copy applications please. Questions? Call 07 32114466.

 


ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT – full time

Are you a dedicated and professional admin all-rounder? Use your skills to help the environment with a leader in the field.

Queensland’s leading community legal centre for the environment is on the lookout for a full-time Administrative Assistant at our exciting new headquarters in West End, Brisbane.

You will be a valued and appreciated member of the EDO Qld team, essential to continuing our 25-year legacy of using legal expertise to address some of the biggest environmental problems faced by communities today.

Your main role will be to help our office run smoothly and efficiently, providing essential administrative support to our office, fundraising and legal staff.

If you have exceptional organisational, interpersonal and customer service skills; strong attention to detail; and previous experience in providing administrative support to a busy office, we would love to hear from you.

For details of how to apply, read the position description and selection criteria here.

Applications must be received by COB Friday 26 May 2017.

Two referees who are happy to be telephoned to discuss your most recent experience must be provided. No hard copy applications please. Questions? Call 07 32114466.

Abbot Point, coal & Caley Valley Wetlands: what’s the legal situation?

8 May 2017

UPDATE: Adani reports exceedance to EHP

Last week, EHP published a media statement that Adani Abbot Point Bulkcoal had advised it that:

  • an exceedance of the water discharge limits in the temporary emissions licence occurred on 30 March 2017;
  • the discharge contained 806 mg/L of sediment;
  • the non-compliant discharge did not enter the Caley Valley wetland, but was from a licenced discharge point on the northern side of the terminal; and
  • further investigations by ‘port management’ indicated that ‘no coal-laden water entered any marine environment’.

EHP stated that it will prepare an investigation report to inform what compliance action it will take, if any, in accordance with its enforcement guidelines.  On 20 April, EHP took sand samples on the beach to check for coal in the discharge, with results “expected to be available by the week beginning 8 May 2017.”  There is no explanation offered as to what contaminants caused the high sediment levels, or what total volume of water over the 100mg/L limit was discharged.

It also stated that “There are serious penalties for corporations whose non-compliance with their environmental authorities or temporary emissions licences causes environmental harm…”. While this is true, causing environmental harm (which includes potential adverse effects) is not strictly required for serious penalties for contravening a licence condition.  However, any harm or potential harm is one factor that EHP will consider under section 3 of its enforcement guidelines in choosing any compliance action. It is not a certainty that EHP will elect to prosecute Adani and seek penalties, given the range of enforcement tools available to it.

Since EHP’s statement, Adani posted on its Facebook site a refute to assertions that it had discharged contaminated water, and that it had advised EHP of “a high sediment level in a sump pond inside the Abbot Point designated area”. Adani has also been reported in the media as stating that “no water was discharged or released into any marine environment” (ABC News). This reply is somewhat perplexing given that the TEL (and EA) limits relate to discharge, and required Adani to monitor discharge during a release from site.  Those requirements did not require Adani to notify EHP of contaminant levels in stormwater simply being held onsite, such as in a sump pond.  Instead, condition A9 of Adani’s EA requires Adani to notify EHP within 24 hours of a spill or release that, amongst other things, ‘may result in any observable environmental impact’.

EHP’s statement does not address any discharge that occurred to the Caley Valley Wetlands.  As such, there is not yet any departmental explanation of the apparent contamination in the aerial photographs initially published in the media, and whether environmental harm was caused by a discharge there.

 

11 APRIL 2017

Environmental regulation of T1 coal terminal

You may have seen news reports of what looks like spillage from the Abbot Point coal terminal into the Caley Valley Wetlands in the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie. What Environmental regulation applies to the T1 coal terminal?

  • Abbot Point Bulk Coal Pty Ltd (APBC) were required to obtain an environmental authority (EA) under the under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld) (EP Act) to conduct the environmentally relevant activities (ERAs) of bulk material handling (ERA 50-(1a)) and sewage treatment (ERA 63(1)(b)(i)) on land adjacent to the Caley Valley Wetlands at Abbot Point. Abbot Point Bulk Coal Pty Ltd (APBC) currently holds an environmental authority for the T1 coal terminal at Abbot Point.
  • Under the EP Act it is an offence to unlawfully cause serious or material environmental harm.However, an act causing environmental harm won’t be ‘unlawful’ if it is authorised under an environmental authority (EA).
  • APBC’s EA for coal stockpiling only permits discharges to waters at two locations if it meets certain water quality criteria including, for example, that suspended solids are below 30mg/L.
  • It is an offence to contravene a condition of an environmental authority.
  • APBC obtained a temporary emissions licence (TEL) to increase the release limits for total suspended solids from 30 mg/L to 100 mg/L during a 4 day period from 27 March 2017 to 30 March 2017 at two locations.
  • It is an offence to contravene a condition of a TEL.
  • It is also an offence to place a contaminant where serious or material environmental harm may be caused.

Want to know more? Click here for more detailed information with footnotes and links.

Guidelines and Rules for making local planning schemes – out for comment until May 9

4 May 2017

The draft Minister’s Guidelines and Rules (MGR) are open for your feedback until 5pm Tuesday 9 May.

See more information here, along with a copy of the draft MGR.

This is a statutory instrument which provides the rules for how local governments can draft local planning schemes, as well as the rules and process for making amendments to local planning instruments. The final MGR will replace the current ‘Statutory guideline 01/16: Making and amending local planning instruments’.  Guidance material and factsheets have also been provided by the Department to assist in reviewing the draft MGR (available here).

Local planning schemes are important documents in dictating the location and form of development allowed in your area, as well as how that development should be assessed. They also dictate when you will be allowed to have a say on development proposed, e.g. whether the development type is code assessable (no public consultation or appeal rights); or impact assessable (public consultation and appeal rights apply).

EDO Qld often hears concerns from the community as to the ease with which local planning schemes can be amended by local government. Amendments to a planning scheme can be frustrating for the community, who trust that the final planning scheme published is the final version, particularly after they have provided meaningful input into the drafting of the scheme. Changes to the planning scheme which allow unforeseen development can have significant impacts on the overall planning proposed for a region.

Changes are allowed to planning schemes, but they must go through the processes under the Planning Act and as outlined in the draft MGR. Therefore, these guidelines and rules are important and need to be well drafted to ensure that significant amendments always go through sufficient public consultation.

Things to be aware of – these guidelines help decide whether and how you will be able to comment on planning scheme amendments:

  • The process for making or amending a planning scheme can now be tailored to each circumstance, and will be defined under a notice from the chief executive of the Department. The factors the chief executive must consider when defining what the tailored process will be are provided for in chapter 1 of the MGR.
  • The Planning Act 2016 provides certain factors that must be provided for in the notice as to the process required for making or amending the planning scheme in section 20, including minimum periods for public consultation for new (40 business days) or amended (20 business days) planning schemes. These periods cannot be altered by the MGR.
  • Planning Act s20 empowers the MGR to provide for a different process for amending a planning scheme; under which the guidelines define the process for:
    • Administrative amendments (no public consultation);
    • Minor amendments (no public consultation);
    • Major amendments (20 business days public consultation required); and
    • New: Qualified state interest amendments (20 business days public consultation required) –  a new process for amendments that are considered more than a minor amendment, but not sufficiently complicated to be considered a major amendment due to their relatively low risk from a state interest perspective. The process for these amendments is not as onerous as for major amendments.
  • Check out the definitions for the above forms of amendment in schedule 1 of the draft Guidelines. These definitions determine whether an amendment will be publically notified or not – do you think these definitions are appropriate? Include your suggestions in your submission.
  • If you think new or amended planning schemes should be notified in a certain way or to particular parts of the community – include your suggestions in your submission.
  • NB: reference to ‘days’ always refers to ‘business days’ in the guidelines – see definitions in schedule 8.

How to make a submission

Only properly made submission under the Planning Act 2016 will be accepted.

A properly made submission must:

  • be made to the Planning Minister
  • be received on or before Tuesday 9 May 2017
  • be in writing and, unless the submission is made electronically, is signed by each person who made the submission
  • state the name and residential or business address of each person who made the submission
  • state the grounds of the submission and the facts and circumstances relied on in.

DILGP have provided a word template to assist formatting of submissions.

Properly made submissions can be provided through the following methods:

  • completing the online form
  • emailing your submission (including your full name and email address) to bestplanning@dilgp.qld.gov.au
  • post your submission to:
    Minister’s Guidelines and Rules feedback
    Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning
    PO Box 15009
    CITY EAST QLD 4002

Review of national climate change policy open for comment – subs due 5 May 2017

27 April 2017

The federal government is currently undertaking a review of its climate change policies via a Discussion Paper, open for consultation until 5 May 2017.

This review is intended to ensure federal climate change policies are effective in achieving Australia’s national target of reducing emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, and Paris Agreement commitments.

Terms of reference for the review are at Appendix A of the Discussion Paper.

It is imperative that the federal government implements much stronger leadership in climate change policy for Australia. Under current policies alone we will not meet the targets of the Paris Agreement which we have ratified.

The federal government has been stymying the efforts of states around Australia who have attempted to take action to address climate change. The renewable energy targets and emissions reduction targets of some states now exceed those proposed by the federal government. Rather than encouraging these laudable efforts, these states are frequently criticised by the federal government. Yet the federal government has given no indication that they will provide the necessary centralized leadership to sufficiently reduce Australia’s emissions to avoid dangerous climate change.

We encourage you to get your voices heard by putting in a submission to this consultation period encouraging stronger federal climate action.

The 2016 Climate Institute report, A National Agenda for Climate Action, provides some helpful points to inspire your submissions, including these suggestions for improvements to national climate change policy (paraphrased):

  1. Set a credible pathway to net zero emissions well before 2050 – reduce emissions by 45 per cent on 2005 levels by 2025, and 65 per cent by 2030.
  2. Ensure investor, business and community confidence in clean energy:
    1. remove explicit and implicit subsidies that encourage emitting activities;
    2. provide economic and community strategies to steadily replace coal fired power stations by 2035 and minimise impacts on vulnerable people and communities;
    3. establish policies which lead to 50 per cent of national electricity generation being from clean energy by 2050, and a clear, long-term carbon price signal or penalty for sustained decarbonisation; and
    4. integrate climate and energy policy and allow improved market responses to new zero carbon technologies.
  3. Integrate climate costs and opportunities into mainstream decision-making.

 

The Discussion Paper is open for public consultation until 5pm, 5 May 2017.

View the Discussion Paper here: (PDF – 540.35 KB) | (DOCX – 4.97 MB) ​

How to make a submission:

  • Electronic submissions (in Microsoft Word .doc or .docx) are preferred by the Department.
  • Send your submission to:

Climate Change Policies Review – Discussion Paper submissions
2017 Review Branch
Department of the Environment and Energy

Email: climatechangereview@environment.gov.au

By post: (however must arrive by 5 May)

Climate Change Policies Review – Discussion Paper submissions
2017 Review Branch
Department of the Environment and Energy
GPO Box 787
Canberra ACT 2601

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