The Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 (the Act) has recently been amended to include among other things a new section 23AA that provides the Director EPA with the discretion to publish, provide or make available environmental monitoring information.
Environmental monitoring information is defined as information that:
results from, or relates to, monitoring of the environmental effects of an activity;
is required to be collected under an environmental licence, environmental protection notice, permit, environmental protection policy or under environmental standards; and
is provided under the Act, or another prescribed Act to the Board or the Director otherwise than in accordance with a requirement imposed on a person under section 43 or 92 of the Act.
The aim of the changes to the Act is to improve transparency and allow public scrutiny of important information about the environmental effects of industries operating in Tasmania's environment, further supporting public confidence in Tasmania's environmental regulatory system.
To provide guidance on how the Director EPA intends to exercise the discretion to release environmental monitoring information the Environmental Monitoring Information Disclosure Policy (the Policy) has been prepared.
The power to release environmental monitoring information under the Act works in parallel with and does not override the obligations to release information under the Right to Information Act 2009. This means that information not released under the Policy can still be requested, assessed and released under the RTI process.
The EPA has reviewed what it has received from permitted and licenced premises since 1 January 2022, and has identified around 2000 reports, documents and other submitted information that meet the criteria for release.
This environmental monitoring information is currently being reviewed to determine which information is eligible for release under section 23AA.
A Project Team within the EPA has been established to undertake this work and they are developing the capacity within the EPA website to manage this process which may take some time.
Therefore, to enable some immediate information to be released, the Project will be implemented in phases. Today's launch of Phase One involves the publishing of the Environmental Monitoring Information Disclosure Policy on the EPA website and providing members of the public with the opportunity to request information via an online request form.
Further information is available at Release of Environmental Monitoring Information.