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Ecologically Sustainable Development and Environmental Performance

Business Practices

Risk Management

More rigorous environmental risk assessments were introduced as part of Defence's infrastructure asset development and approval process. The assessments ensure environmental risks are identified and appropriate mitigation strategies are put in place to address environmental issues during the planning, design and construction phases of infrastructure projects.

Incident Reporting

Defence continued to develop and test its environmental reporting of incidents and complaints tool. The development of the tool followed recommendations in an environmental incident reporting review conducted during 2002-03. The following table summarises environmental incidents reported during 2003-04. These were addressed through the Defence environmental management system and the relevant environmental site managers.

Table 7.14 Environmental Incidents Reported in 2003-04
Category No. of Incidents
Disturbance of soil through clearing and contamination or by fire, flood or explosion 5
Accidental Release, Leaks and Spills 23
Intentional Release 1
Interaction with Flora and Fauna 10
Interaction with Heritage 2
Waste 1
Total 42

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Defence Environmental Management System

Seven Defence sites began implementing the environmental management system, adding to the 18 sites that began implementation during 2002-03.

In November 2003, the RAAF Townsville environmental management system became the first Defence site to be certified to the International Standard Organisation 14001 for environmental management systems. This achieved the Government's requirement that at least one major site be certified by December 2003. The Puckapunyal Military Training Area environmental management system is planned for certification towards the end of 2004-05.

Internal audits are conducted to ensure continued compliance with Government requirements and relevant standards.

Heritage Management

Defence achieved successful implementation of many aspects of the new heritage amendments to the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, which took effect on 1 January 2004, including development of the draft Defence heritage strategy.

Significant achievements during included:

  • strengthened relationships with heritage authorities, notably the Department of the Environment and Heritage, and increased consideration and value of Defence heritage, particularly in the management of the Defence Estate;
  • completion of phase one of the 'Opening the Doors' program that aims to promote Defence heritage events across Australia, and to increase accessibility to unique Defence sites for all Australians to share and enjoy;
  • incorporation of heritage expertise as part of the Defence Environment and Heritage Panel, to support heritage management activities;
  • development of heritage management plans for many Defence sites including RAAF Richmond, New South Wales, RAAF Darwin, Northern Territory, Anglesea Barracks, Tasmania, Harold E Holt Naval Communication Station, Western Australia, Woomera, South Australia and HMAS Cerberus, Victoria;
  • approval for the development of the Naval Heritage Centre at Garden Island in Sydney; and
  • agreement between Defence and the Department of the Environment and Heritage to work together on the 'Australians at War' theme of the Distinctively Australian program launched in 2003 by the Prime Minister, which aims to define our distinct national identity as Australians.

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