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Appendix A: Environmental performance


Defence

Ecologically sustainable development

Section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) requires Australian Government organisations to report annually on their environmental performance and contribution to ecologically sustainable development.

Defence environmental policies and processes, particularly Defence environmental impact assessments, provide for both the sustainable development of the Defence estate and the environmentally sound conduct of Defence activities on land, at sea and in the air in support of Australia’s defence capability in accordance with the EPBC Act.

Environmental support to redeployment in Afghanistan was a high priority in 2013–14. Specialist support ensured that Joint Task Force 633 met environmental due diligence requirements at the multi-national base at Tarin Kot. A combined environmental management group also augmented Exercise Talisman Sabre 13 to provide on-ground environmental advice and assistance.

Effect of activities on the environment

Defence continued to conduct its program of environmental impact assessment to ensure that the environmental risks of Defence activities were properly considered and managed. This ensured that those activities did not have significant adverse impacts on the environment.

Referrals

Under the EPBC Act, agencies are required to refer any action that is likely to have a significant impact on the environment. In 2013–14, Defence referred one action for formal consideration under the Act (Table A.1).

Two Defence actions were subject to continuing assessment under the Act during 2013–14 (Table A.2).

Table A.1: Defence actions referred under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 2013–14

Defence action

EPBC referral number

Date referred

Status

Removal of heritage buildings at RAAF Base Amberley, Ipswich, Queensland

2014/7123

28 February 2014

Assessment will be by preliminary documentation.

Defence is preparing a preliminary documentation report.

Table A.2: Defence actions subject to continuing assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 2013–14

Defence action

EPBC referral number

Status

Removal of Bellman hangars at RAAF Williams (Point Cook) due to structural deterioration

2008/4251

The action is being assessed through a preliminary documentation process.

Defence is preparing a preliminary documentation report.

Flying operations of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at RAAF Bases Williamtown and Tindal and the Salt Ash Air Weapons Range

2010/5747

The action is being assessed through an environmental impact statement process.

Defence submitted the environmental impact statement in April 2014.

Measures taken to minimise the effect of activities on the environment

Defence continued to apply a risk-based approach to the application of measures aimed at minimising the impacts of activities on the environment.

Defence activities that are considered to pose a low risk to the environment are managed through existing protocols, such as standard operating procedures, standing orders and environmental and heritage management plans. Types of activities that are considered low risk include routine and small-scale military training activities, minor construction works, building refurbishments and the use of some new or upgraded military equipment.

Defence activities that are considered to have medium environmental risks are assessed and managed through the Defence Environmental Clearance Certificate process. A clearance certificate is also required for activities where no policies or procedures already exist to ensure that appropriate environmental mitigation strategies or management plans are in place.

Higher-level assessments are conducted for actions or activities that are likely to have a significant impact on the environment. Comprehensive assessments, such as the preparation of an environmental impact statement or preliminary documentation report, are conducted in accordance with the provisions of the EPBC Act and involve community consultation. Higher environmental risk activities can include large-scale training exercises, major infrastructure works, and the introduction of major equipment or activities in environmentally sensitive locations. These activities receive comprehensive environmental impact assessments that include advice from professional environmental consultants.

Internal management tools

The Defence Environmental Management System is a key component of the Defence Estate Quality Management System and is to be fully integrated into the Garrison and Estate Management System, which is under development. The quality management system meets the AS/NZS ISO 9001:2008 international quality management standard and provides a platform for continuous improvement, compliance and the achievement of best practice in developing and managing the Defence estate and related services.

The 2010–14 Defence Environmental Strategic Plan outlines a range of programs and initiatives that continued to be implemented in 2013–14. Defence also began the development of its Environmental Manual as a central repository for environmental policy and guidance.

Table W12.3: Defence environmental improvement initiatives and reviews, 2013–14

Theme

Initiatives and reviews

Energy management

Electricity submeters were installed to improve the organisation’s capacity to monitor and report energy consumption.
Sustainability action plans were developed at 52 major sites across the estate to identify actions that reduce energy and improve efficiency.
The feasibility of renewable energy on the estate was investigated.
Lighting retrofit projects were implemented
Infrastructure projects incorporated energy-efficient designs, fittings and equipment, and solar hot water systems.

Water and waste management

Water efficiency initiatives were implemented across the estate, including leak detection, upgrades to irrigation systems, replacements of fixtures with water-efficient devices, rainwater harvesting and reuse, and the development of landscape management plan.
The 52 sustainability action plans (see above) include actions to reduce potable water consumption and increase water-use efficiency.
New contract arrangements were established for the removal of domestic and commercial waste from Defence sites to improve the consistency of internal and kerbside waste streaming. This initiative will increase waste separation, which reduces diversion to landfill.
Due diligence procedures for managing tyre disposal are well established.
Defence disposal actions for waste engine oil are consistent with the intent of the Product Stewardship Scheme for Oil.

Land management and biodiversity conservation

Site-based land management across the estate included plans for sustainability monitoring and reporting and for biodiversity and overabundant species.
Defence has strategic partnerships with tertiary institutions, such as the Australian National University and Australian Defence Force Academy, to assist with biodiversity management on the Defence estate. This includes the development of camera and sound monitoring protocols that can be applied to measure biodiversity.

Interaction with marine and aquatic environments

Activities in the marine environment were undertaken in accordance with the ADF Maritime Activities Environmental Management Plan. The plan guides the full range of likely Defence marine activities and mitigates potential risks to marine fauna, including noise disturbances, entanglement, habitat degradation and collisions.
Defence updated its Strategic Environmental Assessment of Defence Activities in the Great Barrier Reef and submitted the report to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
The organisation undertook an environmental impact assessment for the Navy’s International Fleet Review. Thorough planning ensured that there were no significant environmental incidents during the review in Jervis Bay and Sydney Harbour from 3 to 11 October 2013.

Heritage

Defence revised the Defence Heritage Strategy and continued to develop and implement heritage management plans for the Defence estate, including at Wide Bay Training Area, Greenbank, Canungra and Yampi Sound Training Area.

Climate change

Monitoring of the ways climate change may affect mission frequency, mission profiles, mission environments and preparedness posture continued.
Defence completed a study for selected sites to determine mitigation and adaptation strategies to minimise the impact of storm surges, coastal erosion and sea-level rise induced by climate change. The results will feed into decisions about base planning, base redevelopments, capital facilities and maintenance programs.
The organisation participated in the South-Asia Regional Environmental Security Forum, which was co-hosted by US Pacific Command and the Maldives National Defence Force. Defence continued its program of seminars on global changes in strategic military geography to raise awareness and engage Defence personnel on environmental security and climate change impacts. Speakers presented on diverse topics, including the implications of climate change for national security, health, infrastructure, the Defence estate and energy. They included earth science, security and military subject matter experts.

Pollution prevention and contaminated sites management

The Defence Pollution Prevention Program policies and guidelines assist in preventing pollution, particularly where hazardous substances are being used.
The Mercury Working Group was established to work closely with the Department of the Environment to ensure the environmentally sound management of that substance.
The DMO assisted Joint Logistics Command with preparations for Australia’s ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which aims to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds. This work included the production of an impact assessment report to advise on the impact that Australia’s obligations under the convention is expected to have on acquisition and sustainment. It will enable Defence to inform the Government and ensure that Defence interests are properly considered during treaty ratification and implementation, which is being led by the Department of the Environment.
The Defence Environmental Remediation Program covers contamination remediation under the Unexploded Ordnance Program and the evolving Major Projects program. During 2013–14, remediation programs focused on managing and remediating sites where historic use by Defence may have left a contamination legacy, using a risk-based approach to prioritise efforts.
The remediation of the former fire training area at RAAF Base Williams, Point Cook, Victoria, commenced. The project will reduce the potential risks to human health and the environment, particularly in Port Phillip Bay.
Extensive environmental investigations to map the movement of groundwater contamination off the site continued at Army Aviation Centre, Oakey.
Defence engaged with the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC Care) to improve understanding about innovative solutions to emerging contamination issues. This included conducting a Defence Symposium at the CRC Care CleanUp 13 conference in September 2013.

National environmental protection measures

Defence contributed to the Government’s implementation of the National Environment Protection Measures and an assessment of the effectiveness of the measures. The organisation continued to report under the National Pollutant Inventory.

Ozone-depleting substances and synthetic gases

Defence employs a wide range of critical and complex capabilities containing ozone-depleting substances such as fire-suppression gases, synthetic greenhouse gases such as refrigerants, and components with product stewardship requirements at the ends of their lives. Given the complexity of the task of maintaining Defence assets over long periods, the requirements for careful through-life management of those substances, and evolving environmental expectations from product stewardship schemes, Joint Logistics Command has established a deputy director position to manage environmental logistics.
To maintain extensive firefighting, refrigeration and air-conditioning plant, Defence manages a range of ozone-depleting substances and synthetic gases, including through a suite of permits and licences. Fire-suppression systems are evolving, and interdepartmental processes for the bulk storage of halon at the National Halon Bank are now mature.

Defence Environment and Heritage Panel

The Defence Environment and Heritage Panel provides ongoing specialist environment and heritage consultancy services to Defence and other government agencies to assist in the identification, mitigation and management of environmental risks and impacts. The 2009–13 panel commenced in February 2009 and expired on 9 February 2014. A new panel commenced on 10 February 2014.

During 2013–14, the organisation continued to implement specific initiatives in the following areas:

  • energy management
  • water and waste management
  • land management and biodiversity conservation
  • interaction with marine and aquatic environments
  • heritage
  • climate change
  • pollution prevention and contaminated sites management
  • ozone-depleting substances and synthetic greenhouse gases.

Defence continued to establish and maintain strategic partnerships with universities, local community groups, key stakeholders, local governments and non-government organisations, and employed various management processes and practices, technologies and infrastructure to minimise the effect of activities on the environment.

Defence Materiel Organisation

The DMO manages equipment and systems to ensure that the principles of ecological sustainability are adhered to during the acquisition, sustainment and disposal of materiel. By systematically applying Defence’s environmental management concepts and procedures, the DMO aims to reduce its environmental footprint through a workforce culture of sustainable environmental management principles and practices. Its Environmental Management System reduces potential environmental impacts through continuous improvement in management and performance.

Achievements in environmental management during 2013–14 included the following:

  • The DMO reviewed its Environmental Management System with the aim of refining the system further. Key components of the review were:
    • an examination of the DMO’s and Defence’s procedures and policies related to environmental management
    • a review of processes related to environmental risk management and their application across the capability and project lifecycles.

    Outcomes of this review will influence future work on the integration of environmental management within the DMO and between organisations, and throughout the capability lifecycle. Implementation has begun.

  • The DMO continued to update other environmental management policies, procedures and guidance.
  • Through continued commitment to the Defence Environmental Management Forum, the DMO supported the development of a new Defence Environmental Strategic Plan to succeed the 2010–14 plan.
  • The organisation assisted Joint Logistics Command with preparations for Australia’s ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which aims to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds. This work included the production of an impact assessment report to advise on the impact that Australia’s obligations under the convention is expected to have on acquisition and sustainment. This will enable Defence to inform the Government and ensure that Defence’s interests are properly considered during treaty ratification and implementation, which is being led by the Department of the Environment.