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Annual Report 2014–15

Volume 1, Part 3 : Governance and Accountability

Chapter 12
Environmental performance

Defence environmental performance

Sound environmental policies and processes, particularly Defence environmental impact assessments, underpin the sustainable development of the Defence estate and conduct of all Defence activities, and are in accordance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

The environmental policies, procedures and support tools published on the Defence Estate Quality Management System, which meets the AS/NZS 9001:2008 international quality management standard, govern the environmental management of the Defence estate.

Measures taken to minimise the impact of activities on the environment

Defence assessed and managed environmental risks and potential impacts through its ongoing programme of environmental impact assessments. Defence managed its low-risk activities using existing standard operating procedures and plans, and assessed and managed medium-level environmental risks using the Defence Environmental Clearance Certificate process and other mitigation strategies. For higher-risk activities that had a potential significant adverse impact on the environment, Defence completed comprehensive assessments, and referred these for further assessment and approval by the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment.

Referrals

The EPBC Act requires agencies to refer any action likely to have a significant impact on the environment. Defence referred one action for formal consideration under the EPBC Act, as shown in Table 12.1. Defence had two actions subject to ongoing assessment under the EPBC Act during 2014–15, as shown in Table 12.2.

Table 12.1: Defence actions referred under the EPBC Act, 2014–15

Defence action

EPBC referral number

Date referred

Status

Removal of heritage buildings from RAAF Williamtown, NSW

2014/7324

9 September 2014

Under assessment

Table 12.2: Defence actions subject to continuing assessment under the EPBC Act, 2014–15

Defence action

EPBC referral number

Status

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

2010/5747

Under assessment

Removal of heritage buildings at RAAF Amberley, Ipswich, Qld

2014/7123

Approved, subject to conditions, on 9 June 2015

Environmental improvement initiatives and reviews

Defence continued to meet environmental due diligence requirements at operational military bases in the Middle East region during 2014–15. Defence participated in a combined Australia and United States Environmental Monitoring Group for the planning of Exercise Talisman Sabre 2015, to provide environmental advice and assistance to participants on the ground during the exercise.

During 2014–15, Defence continued to develop and implement environmental initiatives and reviews in the following:

  • ecologically sustainable development
  • 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
  • national environment protection measures
  • ozone-depleting substances and synthetic gases
  • Defence Environment and Heritage Panel.

DMO environmental performance

Achievements in the DMO’s environmental management included the following:

  • The DMO Environmental Management System was reviewed in 2014. The review identified gaps in the integration of environmental management processes between Defence Groups and Services and those internal to the DMO throughout the capability systems lifecycle. There were also concerns regarding compliance with applicable environmental legislation.
  • A project management plan for the implementation of the DMO Environmental Management System was developed to capture all the work that will be involved.
  • The DMO is assisting 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. The DMO advised the defence industry that the Government is in the process of ratification through a communiqué released by the CEO on 25 February 2015.

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