EPA considers proposal for the Cressy Hatchery upgrade

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has concluded its assessment of a proposal by Petuna Aquaculture Pty Ltd ('Petuna') for a proposed upgrade to the Cressy Hatchery in the Northern Midlands municipality. The proposal was referred to the Board in September 2021.

Petuna is proposing to upgrade the existing salmon and trout hatchery located at Burlington Road, Cressy, by adding a third Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) for salmon smolt on-growing, and partially reconfiguring existing flow-through ponds to provide space for additional wastewater treatment. The addition of a third RAS will allow the movement of a significant volume of salmon from the flow-through ponds to the controlled environment of the RAS which has benefits for fish health and for wastewater treatment.

The Chair of the EPA Board, Andrew Paul, said that the Board has concluded the proposed development can be managed in an environmentally sustainable and acceptable manner, with certain conditions. The Board has determined to grant a variation of the existing Environmental Licence, which when issued to Petuna Aquaculture Pty Ltd will include the conditions that the activity must comply with. Northern Midlands Council has been notified of the Board's decision and will now proceed with the assessment of the application under the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993.

“Various environmental issues were considered by the Board in its assessment, particularly in relation to the quality of effluent discharged to Brumbys Creek and the levels of wastewater treatment from the flow-through and recirculating systems. The use of a third recirculating system at Cressy means a significant proportion of biomass on the site can be moved from the existing flow-through ponds, where there is minimal treatment of wastewater, to the more controlled environment of a RAS where water is reused and treated prior to discharge. Conditions have been imposed requiring regular monitoring and reporting of water flow and quality at a number of locations both within the hatchery, and upstream and downstream of the hatchery.  Effluent discharge limits which currently apply are to be revised once the upgrades are completed. Additionally, a number of requirements for the development of ongoing improvement plans have been carried over from existing licence conditions.

The proposed upgrades will also cause a doubling in the volume of solid wastes being removed from wastewaters during treatment and requiring removal from the hatchery. Requirements in the licence have been included which are intended to manage risks associated with odours, and for the longer term management of sludge generation from wastewater treatment", Mr Paul said.

Two representations were received in relation to the permit application. The environmental issues raised in these representations mainly related to levels of wastewater treatment and monitoring, the continued use of flow-through ponds with minimal wastewater treatment, and potential impacts on Brumbys Creek from ongoing discharge of treated effluent. Public consultation was open for a 28-day period from 2 October 2021.

The proposal was considered by the Board in the context of the sustainable development objectives of the Resource Management and Planning System of Tasmania (RMPS), and in the context of the objectives of the Environmental Management and Pollution Control System (EMPCS) established by the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 (the EMPC Act).

The functions of the Board are to administer and enforce the provisions of the EMPC Act, to further the RMPS and EMPCS objectives and, in particular, to use its best endeavours to protect the environment of Tasmania.

The Board undertook the assessment of the proposal in accordance with the Environmental Impact Assessment Principles defined in Section 74 of the Act.

The Board's environmental assessment report, including the environmental conditions, has been issued to Petuna Aquaculture Pty Ltd, Northern Midlands Council, and those who made a representation.

The decision by the EPA Board can be viewed on this website at Petuna Aquaculture Pty Ltd, Cressy Hatchery Upgrade​.

Published on: 19/01/2022