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Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act Review

The Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment (DAWE) is currently undertaking a review of the “Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999” which includes a legislated process for the assessment of changes to airspace and flight paths.

This is relevant to FPF for several reasons:

  • Section 160 of the Act allows the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport to give an ‘advice to proceed’ to ASA and CASA which is a Ministerial approval for changes to airspace and flight paths. It appears that prior to the provision of an internally conducted TEIA process by ASA, that shows an estimation of projected impacts, an ‘advice to proceed’ will be given, apparently irrespective of the scale of the impacts without the need to consider noise impacts from General Aviation aircraft such as helicopters and light planes (under 5700kg).

  • Whilst aircraft movement numbers appear ‘regulated’ to some degree through ASA’s internally devised and unendorsed ‘threshold’ system, social, noise and air quality impacts are not similarly assessed or evaluated through ASA’s internal administrative processes.

  • The Interim report states that States and Territories are currently responsible for regulating impacts such as air, noise and water quality. The major and overlooked problem is that in 1995, under a COAG agreement, states ceded their responsibility to legislate for aircraft noise to the Commonwealth, yet there is no current provision for the protection of people and communities from aviation related impacts in the EPBC Act or any other aviation related regulations.

  • Aircraft noise is specifically excluded from regulation under the Queensland State Environmental Protection Act, so there is no recourse or protection for people in the State context.

  • So, whilst the EPBC Act is the primary Commonwealth designated approval mechanism for aviation related matters, there are no specific criteria for assessment and/or evaluation or monitoring of impacts arising from those approvals.

  • Environments, including people as part of the environment, are left without any legislated protection, either through the EPBC Act or State and territory legislation against degradation from aircraft noise and no right of review as impacts increase over time.

FPF members can request a copy of our submission via the REPORTS & SUBMISSIONS page.