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Appendix E-Report on ecologically sustainable development

This appendix expands on the Chapter 1 "Year in Review" summary on Environmental Performance and reports on how we implemented the principles for ecologically sustainable development (ESD) set out in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). As required by section 516A of the Act, it explains:

  • how our activities accord with the five principles of ESD identified in the Act;
  • how we administer legislation in accordance with ESD principles;
  • how the outcomes we work towards, and are appropriated resources against, contribute to ESD;
  • how our activities affect the environment and how we minimise harm to it; and
  • how we review and increase the effectiveness of measures to minimise harm.

How our activities accord with ESD principles

The Department undertakes a range of activities in accordance with ESD principles, ranging from corporate initiatives to departmental policies, programmes and procedures. Further examples of how the Department implemented the five ESD principles in 2006-07 follow.

The integration principle

To integrate environmental, social, economic and equity considerations into decision making, the Department:

  • through the Territories and Local Government Business Division developed management options for DOTARS heritage assets on Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands to effectively integrate long-term and short-term economic, social and heritage considerations. This work is ongoing. The Division led an interdepartmental mine site rehabilitation working group to reverse the environmental impact of past mining practices on Christmas Island.
  • through the Regional Services Business Division makes government funding available through major programmes in the Regional Services Division, the Sustainable Regions Programme and Regional Partnerships Programme. Both programmes assist communities to make structural adjustments in regions affected by major economic, social or environmental change. Decision making processes take into account economic, social and equitable considerations through the assessment of outcomes and local support.
  • through the AusLink Business Division worked in partnership with State and Territory transport agencies to finalise corridor strategies for each of the 24 links making up the AusLink National Network. These provide the information and analytical base for determining future network priorities. Environmental, congestion, safety and amenity issues, as well as economic, market and infrastructure considerations are drawn together in identifying transport corridor deficiencies and priorities.
  • through the Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics ensured decision making processes and research choices cover both long term and short term economic, environmental, social and equity issues and often addresses issues of better pricing and the efficiency or lack thereof in markets. BTRE aims to provide evidence to support decision making, including advice on greenhouse emissions and pollution from the transport sector.
  • through the Aviation and Airports Business Division administered the Australian Government's interests in the ongoing operation and management of the 22 privatised airports.The division continuously monitors compliance with the Airports Act 1996 and the Airports (Environment Protection) Regulations 1997, regulating airport activities that may potentially negatively impact on the environment, such as air pollution or excessive noise. The regulations encourage continuous improvement of environmental management practices at leased federal airport sites. In 2006-07 the Division commenced a review to harmonise the existing Acts with new government environmental initiatives, including the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999, the establishment of the National Environmental Protection Council, associated National Environment Protection Measures, revision of other environmental standards and advances within the environmental scientific field. The Division continues to develop aircraft noise software, available to airports and communities, that assist in the monitoring and management of aircraft noise. Access to the software is available through the Department's website at www.dotars.gov.au/aviation/environmental/transparent_noise/index.aspx.
  • through the Maritime and Land Transport Business Division enacted three pieces of domestic legislation during 2006-07 (as reported under Output 1.4.1) to give effect to international conventions for the protection of the marine environment. The Division has oversight of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is responsible for ensuring maritime safety and protection of the marine environment. In January 2007 stringent emission standards were introduced for heavy diesel vehicles harmonising Australian regulations with the latest United Nations Economic Commission for Europe regulations.

The precautionary principle

Lack of scientific certainty is not used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation and the Department:

  • through the Regional Services Business Division undertakes research by the Regional and Indigenous Policy Branch, provides policy advice on the regional implications of a range of environmental issues including the efficient use of water resources, the effects of drought and the adoption of alternative energy sources such as bio-fuels; and advises agencies on their Regional Australia Impact Statements which require analysis of factors such as the social, economic, governance and environmental implications of a proposal.

The intergenerational principle

To support conservation of the environment for the benefit of future generations, the Department:

  • through the Regional Services Business Division's Regional Partnerships Programme, ensures that all applicants obtain the statutory approvals including, where necessary, those that are environment and heritage-related. These requirements significantly reduce the risk of the Department financing projects that threaten or cause irreversible environmental damage, including negative impact on the environment for future generations, or threat to the conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity.
  • through the Maritime and Land Transport Business Division maintains a key role in improving mechanisms to protect the marine environment for future generations by administering the annual Australian contribution to the International Maritime Organization and the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds, and contributing to the development of international standards and instruments including the Wreck Removal Convention which was adopted in May 2007. Australia ratified the Convention for the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships during 2006-07. The Division made information on greenhouse gas and air pollution emissions of new cars available to the public on its website www.greenvehicleguide.gov.au which has received more than 470,000 visits since it was launched in August 2004.

The biodiversity principle

Taking into account biodiversity and ecological integrity issues in its policy work the Department:

  • through the Australian Transport Safety Bureau maintains investigation procedures requiring investigators to make the relevant authorities aware of hazards (including known environmental hazards) at the completion of the on-site phase of an investigation, in cases where the Bureau formally controlled access to the site under section 44 of the Transport Safety Investigation Act. The Department was a partner in the development of the National Maritime Emergency Response Arrangement to assist in protecting the marine environment from the consequences of severe pollution in the event of a maritime accident.

The valuation principle

Continuing to improve its valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms to ensure that the true cost of activities, including environmental, social and economic are recognised, the Department:

  • through the Aviation and Airports Business Division initiated the research and analysis of policy options for emissions trading and carbon offsetting for aviation in 2006-07.

How we administer legislation in accordance with ESD principles

Administering legislation specified in its Appropriations Act the Department:

  • through the Maritime and Land Transport Business Division initiated the development and implementation of domestic legislation and involvement in the development of international instruments, through bodies such as the International Maritime Organization, to protect the marine environment from any potential negative environmental effects resulting from domestic and international sea transport.
  • through the AusLink Business Division identifies and minimises negative environmental impacts and implements mitigation measures, in instances where the environmental impacts of AusLink projects are subject to both Australian Government and state/territory environmental legislation.
  • through the Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics publishes high quality research to allow better informed Government and stakeholder decision-making processes. The Bureau increased the knowledge base in a wide number of areas in 2006-07, often quantifying the costs and benefits in economic, social, environmental and social equity terms.

Certain officers exercise decision-making powers and advise our ministers on the exercise of their powers under portfolio legislation and on other matters. The matters dealt with by the Department and the Acts administered by the Minister are set out in the Administrative Arrangements Order (AAO) for the Commonwealth of Australia. More than 20 Acts administered by the Minister reflect ESD issues.

The main Acts relate to:

  • noise and emissions from aircraft and damage caused by aircraft (six Acts) and regulation of leased airports, including environmental protection (one Act);
  • protection of the sea and the marine environment (10 Acts); and
  • motor vehicle safety, emission and anti-theft standards (one Act) and road transport charges (two Acts).

A current link to the AAO can be accessed at www.pmc.gov.au or www.comlaw.gov.au

How our outcomes contribute to ESD

ESD is integral to our two outcomes: transport and regional services.

On behalf of the Government, the Department seeks to foster transport systems which are sustainable and efficient, as well as competitive, safe and secure. For more information on how we achieved this in 2006-07, see Chapter 3.

In assisting regions to manage their own futures, the government concentrates particularly on sustainable development, local development practices and natural disaster risks. For more information on how we continued to assist regions manage their own futures in 2006-07 see Chapter 4. In keeping ESD principles integral to the two outcomes, the Department:

  • through the Aviation and Airports Business Division devotes significant resources to developing strategies and policies aimed at fostering a sustainable aviation sector. These strategies are designed, to engage communities in understanding and having input into the design of airport operating arrangements. The Division has concentrated on developing policies that minimize the environmental impact of aviation and that keep abreast of advances in environmental sciences and management.
  • through the work of the Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics (BTRE) which contributes to ESD through publications such as Greenhouse gas emissions from Australian transport: base case projections to 2020.

How our activities affect the environment and how we minimise harm

The Department monitors how its activities affect the environment and how it can minimise harm. For example, the mine site rehabilitation work facilitated by DOTARS is providing strategic investment in the Christmas Island National Park that contributes to the strengthening of its ecosystems, and improving the qualities and characteristics of Christmas Island.

While many of the Department's activities have a positive impact on the environment as highlighted in Chapter 1 and above, its day-to-day operations use resources such as electricity, water, fuel and paper. Waste is also created in various forms.

No breaches of environmental laws or licences by the Department were reported during 2006-07.

The Department also contributes to an annual report on the Government's implementation of environment protection measures, in accordance with the National Environment Protection Measures (Implementation) Act 1998.

Through its active and ongoing work on the Environmental Management System (EMS) and the Green Lease Schedule (GLS), and the associated working groups established to manage and monitor ongoing environmental objectives, the Department maintains a strong and ongoing focus on environmental issues. This commitment is evident in the decision to create an environmental working group in conjunction with a staff information session on World Environment Day.

Reducing environmental impacts

The Department's EMS is focused on its office-based activities in National Office, with initiatives being applied at territory and state levels where appropriate. During 2006-07 the Department focused on implementing actions that worked towards the following objectives, to:

  • establish and implement environmentally responsible purchasing guidelines and procedures;
  • reduce waste production;
  • decrease water consumption;
  • maintain energy efficient systems and reduce energy consumption;
  • increase staff awareness and encourage the use of environmentally friendly and fuel efficient vehicles to reduce total CO2 emissions; and
  • create greater environmental awareness among staff.

The EMS objectives are currently undergoing review in order to establish 2007-08 initiatives and targets.

How we review and increase the effectiveness of environmental measures

The Department is a contributor to a detailed annual report on energy use in Australian Government operations published by the Australian Greenhouse Office which can be found at www.greenhouse.gov.au. As at the date of preparation of this annual report, energy consumption data for the Department for 2006-07 was not available. However, data for previous years appears in Table E1 and Figure E1.

Table E.1 Trends in departmental energy consumption

  2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06
Buildings and electricity
Office buildings
Area occupied 29,159 m2 25,864 m2 28,235 m2 30,080 m2
Occupantsa 1,128 1,114 1,326 1531
Area per person 25.9 m2/ 23.2 m2/ 21.3 m2/ 19.7 m2/
Electricity used 10,785 GJ 11,041 GJ 12,259 GJ 14,887 GJd
Electricity used per personb 9,561 MJ/ 9,911 MJ/ 9,254MJ/ 9,723 MJ/
Electricity used by area 370 MJ/m2 427 MJ/m2 434 MJ/m2 495 MJ/m2
Electricity sourced from renewable sources not reported not reported 3.5% 3.0%
Other buildings
Area occupied 1,306 m2 1,306 m2 1,306 m2 1,306 m2
Electricity used 101 GJ 91 GJ 118 GJ 68 GJ
Electricity used by area 77.7 MJ/m2 69.7 MJ/m2 90 MJ/m2 51.8 MJ/m2
Passenger vehicles
Total petrol used 122,828 L 135,269 L 124,425 L 126,999 L
Average fuel economy/ 100km 10.3 L 8.8 L 11.1 L 11.0 Le
Total fuel used 4,201 GJ 4,657 GJ 4,267 GJ 4,598 GJ
Vehicle fleet compliance with green vehicle guide n/a n/a 35% 20%
Other transport
Total automotive diesel used 4,233 L 0 L 0 L 0 L
Total petrol used 2,656 L 0 L 0 L 0 L
Total fuel used 254 GJ 0 GJ 0 GJ 0 GJ
Total of the above
Direct energy consumed 15,342 GJ 15,789 GJ 16,644 GJ 19,553 GJ
Greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 tonnes) not reported not reported 3,777 4,736 t

GJ = gigajoules L = litres MJ = megajoules
a Occupants may include contractors and employees of contracted service providers as well as staff.
b The Australian Government's energy consumption target is no more than 10,000MJ per person per year.
c Transport statistics include senior executive and other departmental vehicles, but do not include vehicles that staff receive in lieu of remuneration under salary packaging.
d Includes green power.
e Diesel and petrol.

Figure E.1 Trends in departmental electricity and energy consumption

Figure E.1 Trends in departmental electricity and energy consumption

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