The Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 (EMPCA) is the primary environment protection and pollution control legislation in Tasmania. It is a performance-based style of legislation, with the fundamental basis being the prevention, reduction and remediation of environmental harm. The clear focus of the Act is on preventing environmental harm from pollution and waste.
EMPCA is part of the Resource Management and Planning System of Tasmania (RMPS). All legislation comprising the RMPS have the same umbrella objectives in Part 1 of Schedule 1. Part 2 of Schedule 1 of EMPCA sets out a more focussed set of objectives for the Environmental Management and Pollution Control System (EMPCS).
EMPCA is available on line at Tasmania’s Legislation website.
Compliance and enforcement policies guide the work to achieve the requirements of the Act.
Regulations made under EMPCA include:
Environment Protection Policies
EPPs are designed specifically to give effect to the objectives of EMPCA. EPPs define clear environmental objectives with programs to achieve them. They are designed to be outcome-oriented as opposed to regulations which simply set prescriptive rules.
The following EPPs have been made:
Note that there are also State Policies made under the State Policies and Projects Act 1993 that also relate to environmental matters:
EMPCA was developed in the early 1990s to replace the Environment Protection Act 1973. The old Environment Protection Act and the associated regulations, relied heavily on the "command and control" philosophy common to legislation of that era. EMPCA is based on the concept of performance-based legislation, and includes a range of tools to achieve its objectives.
Since 1994, EMPCA has undergone two major reviews; a statutory review as required by Section 108, the other as required by the Tasmanian Legislation Review Program. Both reviews have resulted in significant amendment, principally to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Act, or to more clearly deliver the intent of the legislation.
For the LRP, a Preferred Options Paper was released in August 2004 as the basis for public consultation, followed by a Summary of Submissions.
For the 10-year Statutory Review, an Issues and Options Paper was released in December 2004, followed by a Summary of Submissions in May 2005.
A Final Report consolidated the findings of both the LRP Review and the Statutory Review, and was tabled in Parliament on 18 October 2005.
The recommendations of that Report were given effect to in an Amendment Bill which passed through Parliament in October 2007, and commenced by Royal Assent on 29 November 2007.
Late in 2010, a Statement of Intent, proposing new amendments, was submitted to key industry and community stakeholder groups and local government for comment.
A copy of the consultation draft of the Bill was reviewed by key stakeholder groups and local government, and changes made wherever appropriate.
The Bill included a broad range of amendments (Fact Sheet), many of which were relatively minor in nature and significance. However, there were a number of more substantial changes, some of which were designed to contribute significantly to improving the administration and enforcement capacity of the Act.
The Bill also included a consequential amendment to correct an error in the Pollution of Waters by Oil and Noxious Substances Act 1987 that could limit the ability of the State to deal with oil pollution from small ships and recreational boats in Tasmanian waters.
The Bill was passed by Parliament in November 2012, and commenced by Royal Assent on 6 December 2012.
In 2016, the Government announced changes to the environmental regulatory framework for finfish farming in Tasmania. To keep pace with industrial growth, a number of pieces of legislation were amended to transfer formally the powers for environmental regulation of the finfish industry from the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA). The Finfish Farming Environmental Regulation Bill was introduced to Parliament on 17 August 2017, and the provisions commenced on 4 December 2017. This had followed a period of consultation on a draft version of the Bill and an Explanatory Paper.
The new arrangements include a new Environmental Licence under EMPCA. This framework provides the Director, EPA with a clear, independent statutory role for managing the ongoing environmental regulation of the State's finfish farming industry. In addition, enforcement mechanisms have been strengthened to better reflect the scale of the industry, including the capacity for fines for environmental pollution that are of a true deterrent value.
All the provisions that were contained in the Finfish Environmental Regulation Bill 2017, including those that were added during the Parliamentary process, have now been incorporated into relevant legislation, which are all available on the Tasmanian Legislation website.