EIANZ is hosting a webinar on the EPBC reforms. EIANZ will share their inside knowledge of the current status of this legislation in a lunchtime webinar on Friday 1 December.
In response to the Independent Review of the EPBC Act released in December 2022 and in a bid to usher in a more environmentally conscious era, the Department of Climate Change, Energy, and the Environment (DCCEEW) is spearheading the Nature Positive Reforms program. This comprehensive initiative introduces key elements such as National Environmental Standards, Regional Planning, and the establishment of the independent Environmental Protection Australia agency (EPA). The overarching goal is to fortify environmental protections and simplify approval procedures, setting the stage for a greener and more sustainable future.
At the heart of the program are six National Environmental Standards, covering a spectrum of concerns including Matters of National Environmental Significance, Regional Planning, and Community Consultation. These standards are bolstered by Conservation Planning Instruments, such as Listing Reforms and Recovery Strategies, which play a pivotal role in the Environmental Approvals process. These Standards are currently being developed in consultation with the industry such as EIANZ and will be ready for consultation in 2024.
Regional Planning will take center stage in facilitating development while addressing environmental pressures on a broader scale. Particularly focused on priority areas like renewable energy and urban expansion, this approach aims to streamline actions in accordance with regional plans, minimising the need for additional assessments.
A game-changer in this reform landscape is the formation of the EPA, designed as an independent agency to assess projects comprehensively. From upfront consideration of impacts and adherence to National Environmental Standards to a potential "fast track" pathway for projects with no significant residual impacts, the EPA will aim to revolutionise project approval processes. Operating with a high degree of independence, the EPA's functions will span environmental assessments, project approvals, and the administration of various regulatory responsibilities.
The Compliance and Enforcement Branch has been established to ensure adherence to environmental legislation, conducting investigations and engaging with stakeholders to foster compliance.
As the Nature Positive Reforms unfold, public consultation remains a key component. The public will play a crucial role in this paradigm shift. An online tool will empower individuals to report potential breaches of environmental law, initiating investigations by the Compliance and Assessment Branch. Meanwhile, the DCCEEW is conducting an EPBC Offsets Audit Process and a ground-truthing program to assess the compliance status of approved actions, aiming to refine offset assessment methods.
With an exposure draft package slated for release in 2023 and legislation anticipated in 2024, these reforms seek to strike a balance between robust environmental
protection and a streamlined approval process, paving the way for a sustainable and harmonious coexistence with nature.
If you want to learn more about the reform, you can register to a webinar organised by the Department on 23th November 2023 and on 28th November 2023. They will
explain how the proposed changes are designed to work and how they compare to existing laws. You can register here.
Green Tape Solutions will definitely attend the session and will report on our website!
You can also find more information on the DCCEEW website under EPBC Act reform - DCCEEW
The iconic and adorable koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) is a beloved Australian species that plays a vital role in maintaining the health and balance of our ecosystems. In south-east Queensland, there is a mapping system in place to identify and protect important koala habitat areas, as well as koala priority areas. This mapping supports the South-East Queensland Koala Conservation Strategy 2020-2025 and koala conservation protections under development regulations, including the State planning framework and local government planning schemes.
The koala habitat area mapping is regularly updated by the State government to reflect changes in vegetation over time and to correct the koala habitat mapping. If you own property in Queensland and you believe that the koala mapping on your land is incorrect, you can make an application to amend or remove the mapping. You must follow the process provided by the Department of Environment and Science (DES) to justify your request. In this blog, we'll guide you through the steps on how to update the koala mapping on your property.
The below information is a summary of the information provided by DES on their website at Map amendment requests | Environment | Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (des.qld.gov.au)
Understanding your Koala Map
The koala habitat mapping plays an important role in protecting koalas – the mapping uses advanced habitat modelling that uses biophysical measures with known relationships to koala habitat (including climate, land cover, soil and groundwater), mapping that identifies vegetation communities suitable for koalas (‘koala habitat regional ecosystems’) and koala occurrence records to identify areas where koalas are known to inhabit or potentially inhabit. This mapping system underpins the conservation of koalas, as it is designed to focus conservation efforts on areas that have the highest probability of supporting koalas to help protect these areas from development and other threats. The map is based on the presence of koala feed and shelter trees, regardless of whether koalas occur on your land or not.
The SEQ Koala mapping identifies four important areas –
it It is important to note that locally-refined koala habitat areas are given the same level of protection as core habitat areas under development regulations.
Property-scale maps can be accessed by downloading a Vegetation Management report from the Queensland Government website and can also be viewed on Queensland Globe. The Vegetation Management report will show:
Other information including fact sheets about the mapping can be obtained on the Department of Environment and Science website.
Can I remove or amend the Koala map on my land?
A request to make, amend or revoke a koala habitat area determination under the mapping can only be made by the owner of the land, or a person acting on behalf of the owner if the landowner has provided written consent to the request being lodged.
The person submitting the request must provide relevant grounds for why it is believed the determination is incorrect and supporting information must be provided with the request; for example, aerial or satellite imagery, a vegetation assessment undertaken by a suitably qualified and experienced person (e.g., a vegetation ecologist or botanist), spatial data and site photographs.
Approved requests to amend or revoke koala habitat area will be incorporated into scheduled mapping updates.
On what grounds can I make an application?
The mapping is based on the combination of biophysical measures and suitability of vegetation in the area (including the presence of koala habitat regional ecosystems) and not based on the presence or absence of koalas on your land. You may not have observed koalas on your land – this is not considered to be sufficient grounds to amend or revoke the mapping.
There are three types of requests that can made:
The process for amending or revoking the mapping on your land will depend on whether the request relates to core or local-refined koala habitat area. This is because there are different methodologies used to make koala habitat area determinations for these areas.
For requests that relate to core koala habitat area, the following grounds are considered reasonable:
For requests that relate to locally-refined koala habitat area, the following grounds are considered reasonable:
If you believe that the vegetation on your property meets any of the above options, then you may be able to amend or revoke the koala map on your land.
Due to the scale of the mapping, the smallest koala habitat area determination that can be made, amended or revoked is 0.5 hectares. Cleared areas that are smaller than 0.5 hectares cannot be displayed on the map. While these areas may be mapped as koala habitat areas, landowners may be able to maintain cleared areas under an exemption that applies to clearing in a koala habitat area. These exemptions are outlined in the definitions of exempted development in Schedule 24 of the Planning Regulation 2017.
Note that you cannot make a request to make, amend or revoke a koala habitat area determination under the following grounds:
How to make an application?
We can help! Green Tape Solutions can assist by providing advice and undertaking specific ground-truthed assessments of koala habitat values on your land. Contact us now.