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 former Environment Protection Act and associated regulations relied heavily on control of pollution, mainly from point sources. EMPCA is based more upon the prevention of environmental harm and nuisance and the maintenance of ambient environmental quality. It is intended to be performance-based, and includes a range of tools to achieve its objectives.
Since 1994 EMPCA has undergone two major reviews a once-off 10-year statutory review required under section 108, and another under the Tasmanian Legislation Review Program (LRP) required by the National Competition Agreement. Both reviews 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. A Summary of Submissions was released following the consultation.
For the 10-year Statutory Review, an
Issues and Options Paper was released in December 2004. A Summary of Submissions was released following the public consultation.
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.
Further minor amendments were made to EMPCA in 2012. A copy of the consultation draft of the Bill was reviewed by key stakeholder groups and local government.
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.
Finfish Farming Amendments
In 2016, the Tasmanian Government announced changes to the environmental regulatory framework for finfish farming in Tasmania. To ensure that environmental regulation kept pace with growth in the finfish farming industry, a number of pieces of legislation were amended to formally transfer powers for environmental regulation of the industry from the
Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA). There was a period of public consultation on a draft version of an Amendment Bill and an Explanatory Paper. The Finfish Farming Environmental Regulation Bill was introduced to Parliament in August 2017, and the new provisions commenced on 4 December 2017.
The new arrangements include a new Environmental Licence instrument under EMPCA. The arrangements provide the Director, EPA with a clear, independent statutory role for managing the ongoing environmental regulation of the State's finfish farming industry. Enforcement mechanisms have been provided, including the capacity for fines for contravention of licence conditions that are of considerable deterrent value.
Regulation of Waste Tyre Storage
In 2017, Schedule 2 of EMPCA was amended (using providions under section 11 of the Act) to insert a new activity: "Waste Tyre Storage Depots." The amendment took effect on 8 November 2017. Any proposal to store more than 100 tonnes of waste tyres now requires a level 2 assessment by the Board of the EPA and such stockpiles would in general be regulated by the EPA Director.