10 February 2009
The signing of a MOU between the Environment Protection Authority and the Forest Practices Authority covers matters of overlapping jurisdiction in relation to the impacts of forestry activities in Tasmania.
EPA Board Chair John Ramsay said the agreement, signed late last year, defines the roles of each statutory authority and outlines how both parties will work together.
"The EPA Board flagged right from its inception that an early priority would be to begin a dialogue with the Forest Practices Authority," Mr Ramsay said.
"We have held talks on how the two regulatory bodies would discharge their respective statutory responsibilities."
"The MOU defines the roles of each statutory authority and outlines how both parties will work together."
Mr Ramsay said that the MOU was not secret and had been available on the FPA web site for some time. It has been flagged in EPA communiqués and will also be available on the EPA web site.
Forestry activities are not excluded from the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act (EMPCA) which is administered by the EPA, but the FPA administers the Forest Practices Act and is specifically tasked with regulating the environmental impacts of forestry activities.
"Hence there is some potential for the work of the EPA and the FPA to overlap and it is sensible to ensure that there is clarity of roles in this area," Mr Ramsay said.
"The MOU does not mean that the EPA will wash its hands of forestry issues. We will deal with such matters on their merits while taking proper account the FPA's role and any investigations that it has carried out."
"The MOU is an important platform for us to work with the FPA and other stakeholders to develop an improved system for the management of smoke from planned burning activities in Tasmania."
Mr Ramsay said research funded by a grant from the Environment Protection Fund which is administered by the EPA Board looked at the monitoring of smoke from planned burning in Tasmania.
"The research involved a survey of overseas practice, development of options for Tasmania and development of proposals for a pilot program," Mr Ramsay said.
The EPA and the FPA have also agreed to work collaboratively on the review of the Forest Practices Code so that compliance with the code will satisfy the general environmental duty under EMPCA.
Mr Ramsay said both parties will also hold an annual meeting to review the MOU.