By: Matthew Goodfellow, Director, MRG Environmental
The Queensland government has undertaken various environmental reforms in recent years. These reforms aim to streamline the environmental assessment process by developing a licensing model that is proportionate to the risk of the activity whilst providing flexible operational approvals for industry. Ultimately, the reforms hope to simplify the complex environmental regulation system which can cause inefficiencies and increased costs to government, as well as industry and the consumer. The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) acknowledges in its regulatory strategy that the responsibility for ensuring that an activity does not cause harm to the environment sits with industry, not the department.
EHP allows Environmentally Relevant Activity’s (ERA’s) that have been identified as lower risk the opportunity to be assessed by eligibility criteria and standard conditions. It is noted that while large scale industry and mining are still governed by a similar pre-reform environmental assessment process, EHP has developed model conditions for mining projects (EM944). These model conditions are used by the department as a basis for the ultimate approval package. Model conditions relating to air quality reference suitable Australian Standards for monitoring. Currently the model conditions only recognise low and high volume sampling methods to determine compliance with air quality criteria. The conditions are silent on other real-time methods such as beta attenuation and tapered element oscillating microbalance (TEOM). The department has acknowledged that the model conditions are a living document and subject to periodic revision.
Matthew is a Chartered Professional Engineer with Engineers Australia and a Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland and holds memberships in the Australian Acoustic Society and the Queensland Environmental Law Association. He is an Accredited Professional Member of the Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand and has been the President for the Queensland Branch since 2010.