Environmental performance

Introduction
Airports
Australian Transport Safety Bureau
Aviation
Business and Information Services Groups (formerly Corporate)
Cross-Modal & Maritime Transport
Economic Research and Environment
Land Transport
Regional Services, Development and Local Government
Territories and Regional Support

Introduction

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the Act) outlines principles of ecologically sustainable development (ESD), which are to guide Commonwealth involvement in matters of national environmental importance and actions by Commonwealth agencies and in Commonwealth administered regions. The following are the ESD principles as defined by Section 3A of the Act:

(a) decision-making processes should effectively integrate both long-term and short-term economic, environmental, social and equitable considerations;

(b) if there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation;

(c) the principle of intergenerational equity that the present generation should ensure that the health, diversity and productivity of the environment are maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations;

(d) the conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity should be a fundamental consideration in decision making;

(e) improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms should be promoted.

A significant amount of the Departments activities are concerned with the day-to-day implementation of ESD principles. For example:

  • its airport environment strategies provide measures to prevent or minimise environmental pollution;
  • its officers work with the National Oceans Office to progress implementation of Australia's Oceans Policy, and they provide input into International Maritime Organisation Marine Protection activities; and
  • it has progressed implementation of new emission standards for passenger cars, 4WD vehicles and light duty trucks and vans, which will take effect from 2003.

In working with other Commonwealth agencies and with other levels of government, DOTARS is active in the development of policies and implementation of programs that have a positive environmental and social impact, including:

  • working with the Australian Greenhouse Office on implementation of the Greenhouse Gas Abatement Program;
  • working with Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry—Australia and Environment Australia to integrate social and community considerations into the National Action Plan on Salinity and Water Quality;
  • fostering and promoting Local Agenda 21 initiatives in Australia; and
  • developing the economic and social resources of regional communities in harmony with the environment.

Through collaborative arrangements with the States and Territories, including on issues progressed by the National Transport Secretariat, DOTARS works on improving the environmental performance of the transport sector.

In its own office-based activities DOTARS has developed and promoted initiatives that will result in reduced energy use and waste.

In accordance with reporting requirements under the Act, the rest of this section describes how the activities of the Departments Divisions have accorded with the principles of ESD, as well as the measures they have taken to minimise environmental impacts and contribute to ESD.

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Airports

Airport environment strategies continue to provide the basis for airport lessees to manage the environmental impacts of their operations. The strategies encompass measures to prevent or minimise:

  • environmental pollution at airport sites;
  • impact on biota or habitat; and
  • interference with sites of heritage value or sites of significance to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people.

DOTARS and its airport environment officers worked actively with airport operators and airport tenants to ensure a high level of compliance with the Airports Act 1996 and Airports (Environment Protection) Regulations 1997.

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Australian Transport Safety Bureau

The Australian Transport Safety Bureaus Black Spots Program contains specific provisions in relation to protecting the environment. All project proposals with significant environmental or heritage implications have been required to comply with the provisions of the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974 and with section 30 of the Australian Heritage Commission Act 1975. More generally, policies to improve transport safety accord with the intergenerational equity principle of maintaining and enhancing the health, diversity and productivity of the environment for the benefit of future generations. Improved safety has contributed to ecological sustainability through the economic, social and environmental impact of saving lives, money and resources, and reducing property damage, pollution levels and the trauma associated with accident involvement.

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Aviation

In the development of aviation policy and the regulation of aviation matters, DOTARS has environmental obligations arising from the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, the Air Services Act 1995 and in standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). DOTARS is also responsible for developing policy through the ICAO. Australian domestic and international airlines all operate aircraft which comply fully with ICAO noise and engine emission standards.

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Business and Information Services Groups (formerly Corporate)

As part of the 19992001 Certified Agreement, DOTARS agreed to develop and promote initiatives that will result in reductions in energy use and waste generation. DOTARS runs a successful paper recycling program and energy conservation awareness program through regular articles in its staff newspaper, Transard. Building management systems apply to lighting and air conditioning, and daytime cleaning obviates the need for additional lighting at night. Staff are actively encouraged to circulate documents electronically rather than in hard copy.

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Cross-Modal & Maritime Transport

Safety and Environmental Protection

A Roadstead was proclaimed in the Southern Gulf of Carpentaria to ensure maritime safety and environmental protection measures and Commonwealth border control responsibilities. The Roadstead means that the anchorage, loading and unloading area resource project in the Gulf will be included in the Territorial Sea and therefore under Commonwealth jurisdiction.

Marine Protected Areas

DOTARS provided input into the development of management plans for a number of new marine protected areas.

National Oceans Office

Cross-Modal and Maritime Transport officers worked with the National Oceans Office to progress implementation of Australia's Oceans Policy. Work focused on the development of the South-east Regional Marine Plan to protect and manage the oceans in the regions exclusive economic zone and on the implementation of a database to monitor progress on initiatives under Australias Oceans Policy.

Marine Pests

In July 2001, Australia will introduce new mandatory ballast water management arrangements to protect our marine environment from invasive marine pests. DOTARS provides strategic input into this process by representation on the National Introduced Marine Pests Coordination Group.

DOTARS also provides input into International Maritime Organisation Marine Protection activities. In 200001 a number of issues were progressed including a draft International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems.

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Economic Research and Environment

The Bureau of Transport Economics, through the provision of research and analysis, advises on policy decisions that influence transport and the environment. Of key interest are the identification and measurement of environmental externalities resulting from transport. The Bureau of Transport Economics also examines the most efficient means of dealing with environmental externalities. The ultimate aim is to contribute to better informed public debate and government policy making on these issues.

Environment Group develops and analyses policies addressing the impact of the Australian transport sector on the environment, and assesses the impact of developments in environmental policy on transport and regional interests. The Group itself does not directly undertake environmental measures, but plays a key role in developing policies that promote ecologically sustainable development principles.

Environment Group, with Corporate Division, is continuing to examine the impact on the environment of the Departments direct activities, such as its office waste and energy management systems.

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Land Transport

In April 2001, DOTARS released an environmental report on motor vehicles, Comparative Vehicle Emissions Study. The study involved a test program of recent models of light vehicles against the current and future new motor vehicle emission test cycles, which will be adopted in the new emission standards from 2003.

Results indicated that the adoption of the Euro 2 and Euro 3 emission standards in Australia in 2003 and 2005, respectively, will lead to significant reductions in pollution levels from passenger cars, 4WDs and light-duty trucks and vans. These improvements will be delivered through a combination of lower emission limits and the more demanding test procedures. The report is available on the Departments website.

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Regional Services, Development and Local Government

Regional Services, Development and Local Government has taken a strong role in fostering and promoting Local Agenda 21 initiatives in Australia. Local Agenda 21 recognises the crucial role of local authorities in implementing the United Nations blueprint for action to achieve sustainable development. During 200001, the following Local Agenda 21 projects were funded:

  • using UN Systems for Environmental and Economic Accounting based estimates for decision making in local government;
  • Spatial Accounting for Environmental Performance Phase 1: drafting a guide;
  • Building Capacity and Improving Involvement in Local and Regional Agenda 21; and
  • Local Agenda 21 for Remote and Indigenous Communities.

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Territories and Regional Support

The Jervis Bay Territory water treatment plant uses an innovative ozone treatment phase which reduces the amount of chlorine needed. Major works in the Territory are done in accordance with environmental works guidelines.

Many of the projects funded under the Flood Recovery Fund were for the repair and reconstruction of sewage and water facilities and riverbank areas. These projects all involved the maintenance of appropriate water quality standards for the communities undertaking the projects and for downstream communities.

An assessment of Crown leasehold land on Norfolk Island for national environmental and heritage significance was carried out as part of the Commonwealth/Norfolk Island Land Initiative. The report will assist with decision making on land transfer and ensure compliance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

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