Appendix C—Ecologically Sustainable Development and Environmental Performance

The following summary of the Department's environmental management activities and performance is provided in accordance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, which requires entities to report on:

  • how their activities accord with, and their outcomes contribute to, the principles of ecologically sustainable development, and
  • the environmental impacts of their operations during the year and measures taken to minimise these.

The Department undertakes all of its activities, from corporate initiatives to departmental policies, programs and procedures, in accordance with the five principles set out in the Act: integration, precaution, intergeneration, biodiversity and valuation.

Ecologically Sustainable Development

Under the Infrastructure Investment Program, the Department worked in partnership with state and territory transport agencies to ensure environmental issues were appropriately considered in identifying, designing and delivering infrastructure projects. Proponents were required to consider environmental, congestion, safety and amenity issues, as well as economic, market and infrastructure issues.

The Department continued to implement programs which support the sustainability of Australia's regions. This included ongoing support for projects that construct and install sustainable infrastructure including the use of current ecologically sustainable technology.

At Tweed Heads on the NSW north coast, a project is being undertaken to install a permanent seawall on the Kingscliff Foreshore to protect the public and central business district from coastal erosion and natural events.

Another project involved the installation of a sustainable power system for an accessible pool at the Mater Dei School in Camden. This involved installing 600 solar panels over three roof areas covering an area of approximately 980 square meters.

In Queensland, a project is being undertaken to develop the Sapphire Gemfields Wetlands Reserve—a 14-hectare fresh water seasonal wetland which hosts a range of local flora and fauna throughout the year—as an environmentally focused recreational space to attract and retain visitors. The project will also maintain cultural heritage through the restoration of a historically significant fossicker's dwelling built by one of the original residents of the Sapphire area.

Marine

The Department played a key role in protecting the marine environment for future generations from the impacts of international shipping through its ongoing work at the International Maritime Organization's Marine Environment Protection Committee. Importantly, the Committee adopted a new code to improve safety and environmental protection in the Polar Regions, and Australia was heavily involved in those negotiations.

We continued to collaborate with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to help develop international standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping. We led Australia's input into the development of a mandatory data collection system to improve operational efficiency of international shipping. The Marine Environment Protection Committee approved the system in April 2016. The Department and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority also continued to work with the International Maritime Organization to set standards to prevent other forms of pollution from international shipping, including oil, garbage and sewage, and to ensure these standards are incorporated into Australia's domestic legislative framework.

We also administered the annual Australian contribution to the International Maritime Organization and the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund.

Motor Vehicles

The Department is leading an inter-departmental working group supporting the Ministerial Forum on Vehicle Emissions, which was established on 31 October 2015 to coordinate a whole-of-government approach to vehicle emissions. The Forum brings together the Infrastructure, Environment and Energy portfolios in support of a range of Australian Government commitments, including the 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, the National Clean Air Agreement and the National Energy Productivity Plan. Options to reduce vehicle emissions and improve vehicle energy efficiency are being assessed through a regulatory impact statement analysis.

On 7 October 2015, the Department launched an updated version of the Green Vehicle Guide website www.greenvehicleguide.gov.au. The guide compares the environmental performance of light vehicles, including information on fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and air pollutant emissions. It enables consumers to better estimate their annual fuel consumption and vehicle emissions and make informed decisions about their personal impact on the environment.

Aviation

The Department worked with the International Civil Aviation Organization on global strategies to redress impacts of aviation on the environment, including aircraft noise and emissions.

We assessed the environmental, social and economic impacts of all airport master plans, major development plans and airport environment strategies which airport lessee companies are required to prepare and submit for approval under the Airports Act 1996. The Department advised the former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, the Hon Warren Truss MP and the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, the Hon Darren Chester MP, on the extent to which these documents met the requirements of legislation, including assessments of environmental impacts and plans for dealing with them.

The Australian Government purchased land at Badgerys Creek in the 1980s and 1990s in preparation for a decision on the location of a future airport. The administered program, Sydney West Airport—rental properties, pays for water and land rates, maintenance and other costs associated with renting out the properties on this land. The Department continued to implement a tenancy transition plan to ensure the site could be vacated and prepared for the development of an airport.

As tenants have vacated the site, buildings and structures have been demolished and services disconnected to reduce health and safety risks. Other property management activities on site have included the appropriate management of illegal dumping and site security measures.

The Australian Government is conducting a robust and rigorous environmental assessment for the proposed Western Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek. The draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed airport was released for public consultation from 19 October 2015 to 18 December 2015 and nearly 5,000 submissions were received. These are being reviewed and will be considered as the EIS is finalised and submitted to the Minister for the Environment in the second half of 2016.

The EIS considers a range of factors including the environmental, social and economic aspects of developing and operating an airport in the area. Mitigation measures to minimise and manage the impacts are also considered in the environmental assessment.

Territories

The Department was responsible for infrastructure delivery in the Indian Ocean Territories and Jervis Bay Territory. Each infrastructure project was assessed against the requirements under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act at the project approval stage. Environmental management plans were established at the construction phase and implemented during project delivery. All project design and delivery work took into account sustainability principles and whole-of-life impacts.

We had access to the Department of Defence's infrastructure and environment and heritage panels throughout the year, which helped us plan for projects, develop request for tender documentation, incorporate environmental requirements into contractual arrangements and obtain environmental approvals.

On Norfolk Island, all historical area works aligned with ecological sustainable requirements. Waste management continues to be an issue and provided a unique subject for a graduate learning group project that was undertaken in the first half of the year, and which helped transform current unsustainable waste management practices.

Office Energy Use

The Department is committed to implementing ecologically sustainable principles in its operations and limits the consumption of office energy and other resources wherever practical.

All central office locations use automated lighting controls to switch off non-essential lighting outside of work hours and have devices in place to minimise water use. A number of initiatives are in place to provide effective waste management and to monitor and maintain indoor environment quality in our major offices.

The Department uses 10 per cent green energy and has also been progressively reducing the carbon footprint from our use of motor vehicles. Today, our entire operational vehicle fleet is hybrid technology vehicles.

No breaches of environmental laws or licenses by the Department were reported during 2015–16.

Due to a difference between reporting timeframes for the energy use data and the Department's Annual Report, energy consumption data for 2015–16 will be provided in the Annual Report for 2016–17. Data for 2013–14 and 2014–15 is in Table C.1.

Table C.1 Trends in Departmental Energy Consumption, 2013–14 to 2014–15

 2013–142014–15
Buildings and electricity
Office buildings    
Area occupied (m2) 43,119 43,569
Occupantsa 1,312 1,305
Area per person (m2) 32.9 33.04
Electricity used (GJ) 14,393 14,289
Electricity used per person (MJ)c 11,285 10,949
Electricity used by area (MJ/m2) 334 327
Electricity sourced from renewable sources (%) 4.53 4.4
Other buildingsd    
Area occupied (m2) 453 457
Electricity used (GJ)b 412 348
Electricity used by area (MJ/m2) 909 769
Total of the above    
Direct energy consumed (GJ) 14,805 14,289
Greenhouse gas emissions (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents) 4,334 4,352

Notes:

  1. Occupants may include contractors and employees of contracted service providers as well as departmental employees.
  2. Includes green power.
  3. The Australian Government›s energy consumption target is no more than 7,500 megajoules per person per year.
  4. Other buildings (Mitchell Warehouse) the Net Lettable Area is apportioned to 35 per cent.

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Last Updated: 12 December, 2016