A mediation service is about to be trialled in Tasmania to try to resolve environmental disputes over issues such as music and motorbike noise, smoke from wood fires and backyard burning, other air pollution sources, and water contamination.
The trial is jointly funded by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Board and LGAT member Councils. It targets those environmental nuisance complaints that are difficult for Council Environmental Health Officers (EHO) to manage because there is not an obvious regulatory or planning solution.
These disputes may have arisen from, or been exacerbated by, a breakdown in communication between the disputing parties. It is in these situations that, if the relevant parties agree, such disputes may be resolved by mediation.
Environmental incidents and complaints in Tasmania are mainly managed by the EPA Division of DPIPWE, Local Government, and Tasmania Police. Many incidents occur in cities and lead to disputes between residential neighbours, or between private property owners and local businesses.
Policy Officer in the EPA Division, Carolyn Ferrier, said in some cases there is no clear breach of regulatory provisions, and the authorised officer may ultimately decide they can take no further action on the dispute, even though it has not been resolved.
“It is these situations where there may be a role for mediation between the parties involved,” Carolyn said.
Get Yes Solutions Pty Ltd have been contracted to run the mediation service, which will be available state-wide. GetYes Solutions will work with Council EHOs at the point of referral to determine the suitability of cases for mediation. Supporting documentation for EHOs and referral materials have been developed by the EPA and LGAT and are available on GetYes Solutions’ website www.getyes.com.au or through LGAT or the EPA.
“Anyone wishing to access the service will need to contact their local Council’s EHO in the first instance. Referrals can only be made by EHOs, and they will generally contact GetYes Solutions before making a referral to discuss the case and assess its suitability for mediation.”
For more information go to: http://epa.tas.gov.au/epa/environmental-mediation-trial
or visit the Local Government Association of Tasmania: www.lgat.tas.gov.au
Environmental Policy and Support Services Section
EPA Division, DPIPWE
134 Macquarie Street
Hobart TAS 7000
Phone: 03 6233 4028
Fax: 03 6233 3800