The Environment Protection Policy (Air Quality) 2004, referred to as the Air Quality Policy, has been developed to help regulatory authorities and industry maintain and improve Tasmania's air quality. The Policy was made on 13 December 2004 and came into effect on 1 June 2005.
The environmental values to be protected under the Air Quality Policy are:
- the life, health and well-being of humans
- the life, health and well-being of other forms of life
- visual amenity
- the useful life and aesthetic appearance of buildings, property and materials
The Air Quality Policy contains:
- specific provisions relating to industrial sources of pollution
- specific provisions relating to odour
- general provisions relating to diffuse sources (such as wood heaters, backyard burning and planned burning)
- specific provisions relating to planned burning
Specific provisions relating to emissions from wood heaters and backyard burning are contained in the Environmental Management and Pollution Control (Smoke) Regulations 2019.
Regulatory authorities should ensure that all reasonable and practical measures are taken to avoid or minimise air emissions from industry.
New industries or existing industries undergoing major upgrades are expected to use accepted modern technology to reduce air emissions. Guidelines on emission levels that would normally be achievable are specified in the Air Quality Policy.
Regulatory authorities should ensure that significant industrial sources of air pollution in existence at the time the Air Quality Policy comes into force progressively reduce their emissions.
Regulatory authorities should manage and regulate diffuse sources of air pollution that have the potential to cause environmental harm or an environmental nuisance in a way that will protect the environmental values of the Air Quality Policy.
Persons and organisations undertaking planned burning should use best practice environmental management to minimise the effects of smoke, and must take account of health and amenity impacts. Planned burning includes vegetation burning for fuel reduction, ecological management and forest regeneration, but does not include back-burning to control wildfires.
Where practicable, organisations that undertake regular or large scale planned burning should:
- adopt air quality monitoring programs
- adopt a uniform approach to recording and assessing complaints
- focus on minimising the impact of smoke on the community
- encourage the planning and execution of planned burning in a way that minimises smoke generation
- require that persons responsible for planned burning be competent in relevant burning procedures
The provisions of the Air Quality Policy are not directly enforceable. They are to be implemented by State and Local Government regulatory authorities when developing legislation and policies or undertaking regulation that is relevant to air quality. The Air Quality Policy also provides guidance for environmental managers and consultants in the relevant industries.