Following a period of consultation, 25 conditions were agreed between the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Environment and Water Resources, in accordance with the Environmental Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974 (Note: this act has since been replaced by the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act)
These conditions are referred to as environmental commitments that Defence will incorporate into the RAAF Base Williamtown and Salt Ash Air Weapons Range Environmental Management System.
As part of Defence’s commitment to the environment, Defence will implement 25 activities:
1. The Environmental Management Plan (EMP) for RAAF Base Williamtown will be updated to incorporate the environmental issues identified in the impact assessment process. The plan will be updated to meet the requirements of the international quality assurance system ISO 14001 which requires a review by an independent environmental auditor.
The latest report found that all 25 conditions of consent have been commenced, with the majority (21) having either met the environmental commitment and require no further reporting, or have met the environmental commitment but due to their nature require continual or periodical action. The remaining four conditions of consent have all been initiated but require further work to ensure the requirements are met.
2. The EMP for the Salt Ash Air Weapons Range will be similarly updated and reviewed.
3. The environmental management strategies at both Williamtown and the Range will include long-term noise monitoring. The impacts of noise will be reviewed periodically.
4. An Environmental Advisory Committee will be established at RAAF Base Williamtown to facilitate information exchange between RAAF and the community.
5. Defence will engage with local and state planning authorities to establish guidelines to ensure proposed developments within close proximity to both sites are compatible with Defence operational and training requirements.
6. An Estuary Management Plan for 12 Mile Creek will be developed which will consider opportunities for public access to waterways in the vicinity of the Range, consistent with the over-riding obligation to ensure public safety.
7. The RAAF will review the methods it uses to communicate its flying programs and schedules to the community in the Port Stephens area.
8. Defence will give priority consideration to implementing a noise attenuation program at the Salt Ash Public School to reduce the adverse impacts of aircraft noise.
9. Advice from the Port Stephens community will be sought about, and factored into planning of, operations at Williamtown and the Range to provide for respite periods.
10. Night flying at SAWR will be restricted to the minimum required to achieve operational and training targets. As a general rule there will be no flying after 9:00 pm (Eastern Standard Time) and 10:30 pm during daylight savings.
11. The average annual use of the Range will not increase and will continue to be minimised as far as practical. The maximum 10-year rolling average for aircraft usage at the Range will be 115 days for all Hornet and Hawk operations.
12. Road signage in the Port Stephens area warning of low flying aircraft will be reviewed in consultation with NSW Roads and Traffic Authority.
13. Signage will be reviewed and any additional signage required will be erected around the perimeter of the Range warning of possible high noise areas.
14. Should the responsible authorities conduct long-term health studies in the Port Stephens area, Defence will seek to ensure the studies include monitoring for signs of air toxins.
15. Air quality monitoring and air pollution abatement measures will be incorporated into the environmental management strategies implemented at both sites.
16. Relevant air emissions at Williamtown will be reported under the National Pollutant Inventory as part of Defence’s NPI reporting.
17. The EMP for both sites will incorporate Defence’s greenhouse gas reduction strategy including measures to reduce air emissions and fuel consumption during taxiing, take-offs and landings.
18. Surface and ground water quality monitoring will be incorporated in the EMP for both sites, with results to be provided to Hunter Water Corporation according to an appropriate process.
19. The EMP for both sites will incorporate measures for waste management and control of contamination. This will include management of toxic materials and waste generated during servicing and maintaining of aircraft.
20. The environmental management strategies employed at both sites will include an annual cycle of review and continuous improvement.
21. Indigenous artefacts, archaeological deposits and heritage sites identified at Williamtown and the Range will be catalogued, protected and managed in accordance with strategies identified in the EMPs. The plans will include consideration of impacts of aircraft attack profiles on heritage sites.
22. Any development proposals at Williamtown will be considered in accordance with Defence’s environment and heritage obligations under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and Australian Heritage Commission Act 1975.
23. Security at the Range will be improved by constructing a perimeter fence to preclude public access. Alternative strategies to fencing in estuarine and wetland areas will be investigated, and appropriate signage installed.
24. The EMPs developed for both sites will incorporate the requirements for RAAF (Air Force) operations as set out in formal Defence Instructions and will implement the safeguards identified in the Environmental Impact Study.
25. An environmental status report that addresses environmental issues and includes results of monitoring will be provided to Department of Environment and Water Resources at regular intervals.