On 15 March 2016, Queensland Environment Minister Hon Dr Steven Miles MP, introduced a Bill which amends the Environmental Protection Act 1994.
The ‘Environmental Protection (Chain of Responsibility) Amendment Bill 2016‘ (the Bill) aims to reduce the risk of environmental harm from companies in financial difficulty.
The Bill extends the reach of the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection in issuing environmental protection orders. Environmental protection orders are generally issued to enforce remedial actions to address environmental risk or prevent environmental harm.
Currently environmental protection orders can only be issued to the company which holds the environmental authority.
If the Bill is passed, it would enable an environmental protection order to be issued to a ‘related person’, that is related parties who have profited or stand to profit from the activities carried out under the environmental authority.
It is no secret that the Bill was developed in response to the recent issues experienced during the closure of the Yabulu Queensland Nickel Refinery in Townsville.
The Bill also includes a provision to apply financial assurance (a bond) to environmental authorities which are transferred.
To be a ‘related person’ you need to have a ‘relevant connection’ with the company which holds an environmental authority. This is described by either the capability of benefiting financially or be in a position to influence the company’s conduct in relation to environmental matters.
Public comment on the draft Bill closed on 31 March. On 15 April committee must provide its report to the House.
What are your relations with companies that hold an environmental authority?