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Ecologically Sustainable Development and Environmental Performance

Stakeholder Management

Environmental Training and Awareness

Defence expanded its program of environmental training and awareness during 2004-05, to include the provision of improved environmental guidance materials, Defence-wide environment instructions and detailed site plans and guides. The level of environmental awareness in Defence improved with the 2004-05 Defence Attitude Survey recording a substantial increase of around 30 per cent in the number of military and civilian personnel aware of Defence's environmental responsibilities. The Secretary and the Chief of the Defence Force also presented six Defence Environment and Heritage Awards recognising contributions to the management of environmental risks in support of Defence capability.

Business Practices

Risk Management

Risk management was integrated as standard business practice in a number of key areas in 2004-05. A suite of 'risk tools' was introduced to ensure that impacts on the environment were considered (as one of seven risk dimensions) in a number of critical activities. These included the management of contaminated sites, the planning, development, delivery, operation and disposal of infrastructure assets and training operations as part of site environmental management systems.

Incident Reporting

During 2004-05, Defence completed the development and testing of its Environmental Reporting of Incidents and Complaints Tool to provide a mechanism to manage the notification and investigation of environmental incidents. Defence had no significant environmental incidents in 2004-05 but recorded a number of minor incidents that were addressed through the Defence Environmental Management System and relevant environmental site managers. Available data for 2004-05 is summarised in the table below.

Table 7.13 Environmental Incidents Reported 2004-05
Category No. of
Incidents
Disturbance of soil due to clearing and contamination or by fire, flood or explosion 2
Accidental release, leaks and spills 24
Intentional release(1) 24
Interaction with flora and fauna 10
Interaction with heritage 2
Waste 3
Emissions 1
Management (faults in procedures, processes etc) 5
Total 71

Note

  1. Almost exclusively relates to routine fuel dumping by Air Force aircraft for operational safety reasons and is reported because it represents an emission in the context of the Defence Environmental Management System.
Defence Environmental Management System

Defence is in the third year of a five-year program to implement the Defence Environmental Management System at 67 Defence sites. Since commencement of the program, Defence has adopted a new planning approach to the environmental management of training areas and is now implementing environmental plans or environmental management plans that integrate with site environmental management systems.

During 2004-05, a further three sites progressed towards implementation and Defence continued to maintain certification of the RAAF Townsville environmental management system to the International Standard Organisation 14001. The Puckapunyal Military Training Area environmental management system underwent a pre-certification audit towards the end of 2004-05, indicating some 98 per cent compliance. Progress was also made in identifying priorities for improving the implementation of the Defence Environmental Management System in the Navy, Army and Air Force. Documents and processes were developed or updated during the year to ensure that Defence activities are conducted in accordance with environmental requirements.

Heritage Management 9

During 2004-05, Defence continued to successfully implement aspects of the heritage amendments to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, initiated in 2004. Highlights included the development of a program of heritage management plans for relevant Defence sites and submission of a draft Defence Heritage Strategy to the Department of the Environment and Heritage and Australian Heritage Council. Defence also completed phase two of the 'Opening the Doors' program to promote Defence heritage sites across Australia and established the Defence Heritage Panel Advisory Service to provide support, advice and guidance to Defence personnel.

Defence Referrals under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 10

Defence continued to use environmental clearance certificates to ensure environmental mitigation measures were adopted even where activities were unlikely to have a significant impact on the environment. Obligations were also written into standard operating procedures for routine activities and environmental management plans developed for training areas and bases.

Under the Act, Defence is obligated to consult with the Department of Environment and Heritage to ensure that any of its activities that will have, or are likely to have, a significant impact on the environment, only proceed with the approval of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage. Defence formally referred the following actions to the Department of the Environment and Heritage in 2004-05:

Table 7.14 Defence Referrals in 2004-05(1)
Referral Title Ref No. Date Decision/ Determination Status of Referred
Action
Sale or lease of Commonwealth property, Edinburgh, SA, Sale of land at the Edinburgh Defence Precinct 2004/1871 17 November 2004 Non-controlled action Currently undergoing Defence property disposal process subject to specified conditions.
Defence, Northern Australia, Coral Sea, QLD, Talisman Sabre Military Exercise 2004/1819 12 October 2004 Controlled action Exercise completed.
Sale or lease of Commonwealth property, Maribyrnong, VIC, Sale of Commonwealth land 2004/1711 9 August 2004 Controlled action Currently being considered for assessment of preliminary information.
Defence, Shoalwater Bay, Qld, Upgrade of beach egress and road infrastructure supporting Defence amphibious training activities 2004/1674 23 July 2004 Non-controlled action Action completed.

Note

  1. In addition to the above referrals, Defence was granted an exemption under Section 158 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 to relocate one of the Defence Science and Technology Organisation's laboratories from Maribyrnong (Victoria). The exemption was granted on the grounds that it was in the national interest to do so and that Defence's safeguards would adequately protect matters covered by the Act.

  1. Further information can be found at http://www.defence.gov.au/environment/heritage/. [ back ]
  2. More information on Defence referrals to the Department of the Environment and Heritage can be found at www.deh.gov.au/epbc/assessmentsapprovals/. [ back ]
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