Appendix D—Report under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999

This appendix reports on the Department's commitment to the principles of ecologically sustainable development (ESD) set out in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The goal of ESD is to maintain ecological processes while improving the total quality of life, in the short and the long term.

How the Department's activities accord with ESD principles

The Department undertakes all its activities, from corporate initiatives to departmental policies, programs and procedures, in accordance with the five principles set out in the EPBC Act.

The integration principle

The Department worked in partnership with state and territory transport agencies and the Australian Government-owned Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) to implement the Australian Government's Nation Building Program. State and territory project proponents were required to consider environmental, congestion, safety and amenity issues, as well as economic, market and infrastructure issues. Under the Nation Building Program, projects are subject to the requirements of state and territory planning and environmental laws.

Short, medium and long term environmental issues were appropriately considered in identifying, designing and delivering infrastructure projects receiving Australian Government funding. The focus was on the Australian Government's investment in major land transport infrastructure projects.

In May 2011, the Australian Government released Our Cities, Our Future—a national urban policy for a productive, sustainable and liveable future. The National Urban Policy sets a framework of principles and priorities to guide the Australian Government's policy and investment in major cities to deliver greater productivity, sustainability and liveability.

Sustainability objectives and priorities outlined in the National Urban Policy aim to:

  • protect and sustain our natural and built environments by:
    • protecting and enhancing ecosystems, and
    • supporting sustainable development and refurbishing built environment.
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality by:
    • supporting and investing in low-emission technologies
    • putting a price on carbon, and
    • sustainable urban planning and regulatory reform.
  • manage our resources sustainably by:
    • reducing resource consumption and waste, and
    • improving water, energy and food security.

Implementation of the National Urban Policy is being progressed through the Commonwealth Group on Cities, chaired by the Secretary of the Department, and the Urban Policy Forum.

In November 2011, the Department released Creating places for people: an urban design protocol for Australian cities, which includes guidance on environmental sustainability. The Urban Design Protocol has been incorporated into the Australian Green Infrastructure Council's Infrastructure Sustainability rating tool, and the Green Building Council of Australia's Green Star-Communities PILOT rating tool. The protocol is championed by 40 organisations from all three levels of government, businesses and the community.

The Department assessed the environmental, social and economic impacts of all master plans, major development plans and airport environment strategies which airport lessee companies were required to prepare and submit to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport for approval under the Airports Act 1996. The Department advised the Minister on the extent to which these documents met the requirements of legislation, including assessments of environmental impacts and plans for dealing with them.

The Department continued to develop software to assist airports and communities monitor and manage the environmental impacts of aircraft noise and emissions. The Transparent Noise Information Package software is available for free download via the Department's website at: A new version of the Department's software for calculating the carbon footprint of aircraft operations is available for download at:

As part of its work to ensure the sustainability of the Australian maritime industry, the Department:

  • led the development of Australian legislation during 2011–12 to protect the marine environment and give effect to related international conventions
  • oversaw the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which has the primary role in ensuring maritime safety and protection of the marine environment, and
  • contributed to adoption by the Legal Committee of the International Maritime Organization in May 2012 of a resolution amending the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims 1976, so as to increase by 51 per cent the limits on liability of ship owners for damage or pollution caused by their ships (other than pollution caused by oil spills from oil tankers, which is covered by the Civil Liability Convention).

The precautionary principle

The Department contributed to the Australian Government's work on climate change issues, including providing portfolio relevant advice to assist the development and implementation of the clean energy framework.

The Department also made a significant contribution to the development of transport elements of the Australian Government's position on sustainable development, in particular informing participation in the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20.

The Department applies the precautionary principle in its role as a regulator: for example, the Department ensured the precautionary principle was embodied in the airport environmental strategy for each of the leased federal airports.

The intergenerational principle

The Department played an active role in work of the International Civil Aviation Organization on global strategies to address the contribution of international aviation to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

The Department played a key role in protecting the marine environment for future generations, by administering the annual Australian contribution to the International Maritime Organization and the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund, as well as helping to develop international standards in marine pollution and air quality from shipping.

The Department sought views from stakeholders' on whether Australia should become a party to the Protocol of 2010 to the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea, 1996. Implementing the protocol would ensure prompt, adequate and effective payment of compensation to anybody who suffered loss as a result of an incident involving hazardous and noxious substances carried on board a ship.

The Department is undertaking a further review of the ratings system of the popular Green Vehicle Guide website taking into account feedback on a discussion paper issued in May 2011. The guide rates the environmental performance of all new light vehicles, including greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution emissions. Together with the fuel consumption calculator, this information enables consumers to better estimate annual fuel consumption and carbon dioxide equivalent emissions and make informed decisions about their personal impacts on the environment.

On 14 September 2011, Australian Design Rules (ADR) ADR79/03 and ADR79/04 were formally enacted by the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. These ADRs adopt the stringent air pollution limits imposed by the Euro 5 standards for light vehicles and will begin to take effect in late 2013. They will significantly reduce allowable levels of air pollutants from new vehicles, including up to a 90 per cent reduction in harmful particulate emissions from new diesel vehicles.

The Department continued the consultation and analytical process supporting the Australian Government's election commitment to introduce mandatory CO2 emissions standards for light vehicles from 2015. In September 2011, the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport released the discussion paper Light Vehicle CO2 Emission Standards for Australia—Key Issues which explored issues associated with introducing the standards. The Department engaged an expert consultant to provide independent analysis of the light vehicle fleet for 2010–2025 to support implementation of the Regulation Impact Statement on the standards (expected to be released in the third quarter of 2012).

The biodiversity principle

The Department includes conservation of biodiversity and ecological integrity issues as fundamental considerations in its decision making. For example, in supervising leased federal airports, the Department assesses the extent to which master plans, major development plans and environmental strategies take into account biodiversity and ecological integrity issues, and works with airports to ensure that the biodiversity principle is respected.

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 costs—are recognised, the Department participated in developing policy options for domestic emissions trading in the maritime industry, as well as international debate on possible global measures. This included in International Maritime Organization discussions on regulatory principles to address greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping.

How the Department administers legislation in accordance with ESD principles

While administering legislation in 2011–12, the Department:

  • required states and territories to minimise negative environmental impacts and implement mitigation measures, where environmental impacts of Nation Building Program projects were subject to national, state and territory environmental legislation
  • monitored compliance with the Airports Act 1996 and the Airports (Environment Protection) Regulations 1997, and encouraged continuous improvement of environmental management practices at leased federal airports, and
  • helped develop international instruments to protect the marine environment from potential negative effects resulting from domestic and international sea transport activities, and developed and implemented corresponding Australian legislation.

How the Department's outcomes contribute to ESD

ESD was integral to the Department's two outcomes—infrastructure and transport—and to the Department's work, throughout 2011–12.

By linking transport performance outcomes to projected economic growth and sustainable development, the Department continued to influence the way development and maintenance of major road and rail infrastructure is funded in Australia. For more information on how the Department achieved this in 2011–12, see Chapter 3.

On behalf of the Australian Government, the Department advised on, and led, national efforts to ensure that Australian transport systems were sustainable and efficient, as well as competitive, safe and secure. For more information on how the Department achieved this in 2011–12, see Chapter 4.

Effect of the Department's activities on the environment

Recipients under the Liveable Cities Program were announced in April 2012. This is a competitive grants program of up to $20 million over two years for planning and design as well as demonstration projects. Assessment of projects included the extent to which they met objectives of the National Urban Policy, including environmental sustainability.

The introduction of new, more stringent emissions standards for light vehicles from late 2013 will provide long-term benefits by assisting efforts to improve urban air quality.

How the Department minimises harm to the environment

During 2011–12, the Department continued to seek ways to minimise the environmental impact of its day-to-day activities, including by:

  • contributing to the Online System for Comprehensive Activity Reporting, a tool designed to report energy use under the Energy Efficiency in Government Operations policy
  • contributing to an annual report on the Australian Government's implementation of environment protection measures, in accordance with the National Environment Protection Measures (Implementation) Act 1998, and
  • participating in Earth Hour in March 2012 and shutting down power for an hour in the Canberra and interstate offices.

No breaches of environmental laws or licences by the Department were reported during 2011–12.

Mechanisms for reviewing and increasing the effectiveness of measures to minimise harm to the environment

The annual State of Australian Cities Report provides data and analysis on the major cities with populations over 100,000. The report includes a section on sustainability. The 2010 and 2011 reports have been collectively downloaded more than 1.3 million times. A 2012 report is being prepared, and will include data from the 2011 Census.

How the Department ensures the effectiveness of environmental measures

The Department contributed to the detailed annual report on energy use in Australian Government operations published by the Australian Greenhouse Office available at Because of a difference between reporting timeframes for the energy use data and the Department's annual report, energy consumption data for the Department for 2011–12 will be provided in the annual report for 2012–13. Data for 2010–11 and previous years appear in this year's report, in Table D1.

The Department's environmental management system complies with ISO14001:2004, the international standard for environmental management systems. The system is focused on the Department's office-based activities in Canberra; initiatives are applied at territory and state premises where appropriate.

Table D.1 Trends in departmental energy consumption, 2006–07 to 2010–11

2006–07 2007–08 2008–09 2009–10 2010–11
Buildings and electricity
Office buildings
Area occupied (m2) 34,273 35,515 40,363 32,070 35,709
Occupantsa 1,734 1,679 1,526 1,271 1,426
Area per person (m2) 18.9 21.15 26 25 25
Electricity used (GJ) 14,662 13,857 14,516 13,099 13,151
Electricity used per person (MJ)c 8,455 8,253 9,512 10,305 9,223
Electricity used by area (MJ/m2) 428 390 360 408 368
Electricity sourced from renewable sources (%) 8.00 6.13 6.00 6.00 6.12
Other buildings
Area occupied (m2) 1,306 1,306 1,306 1,250 1,250
Electricity used (GJ) 72.5 96 155 361 364
Electricity used by area (MJ/m2) 55.23 73 119 288 291
Passenger vehicles d
Total petrol used (l) 109,191 81,691 81,936 67,942 59,309
Average fuel economy (l/100km) 11.0 10.36 13.00 10.68 11.0
Total fuel used (GJ) 3,710 3,418 3,068 2,319 2,019
Vehicle fleet compliance with green vehicle guide (%) 18.5 18.5 77 77 69
Total of the above
Direct energy consumed (GJ) 20,018 17,371 17,739 16,579 16,573
Greenhouse gas emissions (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents) 5,000 4,700 3,800 3,764 4,747

a Occupants may include contractors and employees of contracted service providers as well as staff.

b Includes green power.

c The Australian Government's energy consumption target is no more than 10,000 megajoules per person per year.

d Transport statistics include senior executive and other departmental vehicles, but do not include vehicles that staff receive in lieu of remuneration under salary packaging.

e Diesel and petrol.

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Last Updated: 17 November, 2014