Environmental planning and assessment is undertaken by Defence throughout the exercise planning cycle for TS19, ensuring potential risks to the environment are identified early and appropriate measures put in place to avoid or minimise impacts. Key components to the TS19 environmental planning process include:
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) came into effect in 2000. It has strict compliance provisions which have far reaching implications for Defence. The EPBC Act binds all Commonwealth agencies, including Defence, to manage their activities in ways that do not significantly adversely affect the environment, regardless of operational location in the world.
Defence also aims to comply with State, Territory and local government environmental legislation and requirements to the extent these do not conflict with Commonwealth legislative obligations.
There are also a substantial number of additional pieces of Commonwealth legislation to which Defence is bound, particularly in relation to maritime activities. These will all be considered as appropriate in the Environment Report.
It is anticipated the final draft ER will be released for public information and comment in late 2018 or early 2019. Notwithstanding the timeline, the TS19 website will continue to be regularly updated as new exercise details come to hand. As updates are posted, Defence welcomes comment from the public to further guide exercise design and planning.
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The ER is intended to address all relevant aspect of the environment as defined by Section 528 of the EPBC Act. This is a wide ranging definition that, as a result of Section 28 of the EPBC Act, obliges Defence to consider not only Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES) but also the broader environment. This includes generally the need to consider the social, economic and cultural aspects of ecosystems and their constituent parts, natural and physical resources, the qualities and characteristics of places and the heritage values of places.
The ER will consider the potential impacts to the ‘environment’ resulting directly from TS19 in addition to indirect and, where feasible, the cumulative effects of the exercise.
A comprehensive framework of environmental control measures are implemented by the exercise, ensuring impacts are limited to a minimum to achieve the training outcome.
Since commencing the Talisman Sabre series of exercises in 2005, impacts have typically been associated with vehicle movement on land (e.g. vehicle rutting on tracks, dust), maritime traffic and low-altitude aircraft noise. Any physical impacts are repaired by a team of engineers and contractors, while matters like noise or light are addressed more immediately.
The potential for environmental impacts is continuously monitored through the exercise planning cycle. This is achieved by maintaining a risk register specific to TS19. The risk register captures lessons learned from not only previous Talisman Sabre exercises but also other major exercises conducted by Defence.