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Environment Protection Authority commences in Tasmania

The Board of Tasmania’s new Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has met for the first time.

Chair of the EPA Board John Ramsay said the EPA has taken the first steps to independently administer the environmental management system in Tasmania.

"Today’s first Board meeting was a chance for the Board to review its role and function, to receive advice on matters that are already under assessment and to put in place delegations to ensure that business continues smoothly," Mr
Ramsay said.

The EPA is part of Tasmania’s resource management and planning system and the EPA Board’s environmental responsibilities also cover assessments, agreements, audits and environmental improvement programs.

The EPA has a number of statutory responsibilities under environment legislation focussed on environmental quality, including assessing and regulating large industry in Tasmania.

"Although no assessments were before the Board at its first meeting, the Board noted that 30 environmental assessments are currently in progress – including 5 mining projects, 6 quarry projects, 8 waste water treatment projects, 4 waste disposal projects and 2 wood processing projects."

Mr Ramsay said that there had already been some interest in the role that the EPA would play in relation to forestry and an early priority would be to begin a dialogue with the Forest Practices Authority on how the two regulatory bodies would discharge their respective statutory responsibilities.

The EPA Board also had an initial discussion about the forthcoming Statement of Expectation and the Statement of Intent which establishes theBoard’s relationship with the Government.

"In October this year, the Minister will issue a Statement of Expectation to set out the Government’s broad expectation of the EPA’s role, noting that this cannot direct the EPA as to how to do its job. The Board will follow-up with a detailed Statement of Intent," Mr Ramsay said.

"These two public documents will help establish the EPA’s initial priorities. Apart from its statutory functions the EPA Board could take a role in issues such as waste management," Mr Ramsay said. "I am also keen to ensure that
the Board communicates well with its stakeholders."

The Minister for Environment, Parks, Heritage and the Arts Michelle O’Byrne has welcomed the commencement of the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) in Tasmania, saying it will act as a strong and independent regulator for the State.

"It gives me great pleasure to officially welcome the members of the EPA Board to the first meeting in their new role on the day the EPA commences in Tasmania," Ms O’Byrne said.

The EPA was established under section 13 of the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act. The EPA Board’s predecessor was the Board of Environmental Management and Pollution Control.

The EPA is governed by an independent Board and Director and consists of John Ramsay as Chair, Dr Christine Mucha as Deputy-Chair, Warren Jones as Director, Wayne Petrass and Ian Abernethy.

The EPA Board is required to produce an independent Annual Report on its operations for Parliament each year.

The EPA’s work will be supported by professional staff dedicated to that role in the Environment Division of the Department of Environment, Parks, Heritage and the Arts.