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Talisman Sabre 2019 LogoFrequently Asked Questions - Environment

Is live firing conducted on non-Defence land?

No, live firing activities are only conducted on gazetted Defence training areas. Depending on scenarios being practiced during TS19, a combination of pyrotechnic effects may be employed, this may include smoke, battle noise simulators and use of blank ammunition.

The use of non-Defence land for TS19 will not result in any unexploded ordnance (UXO) or any residual hazard to landholders, the community or environment. The potential for noise, dust and other environmental disturbance to neighbours and the wider community will be considered through the environmental impact assessment process that will be documented by the Environmental Report for the exercise.

How does Defence assess the environmental impacts of a TS exercise?

Regardless of whether Australia or the United States is the lead planning partner, the assessment of environmental effects associated with the exercise is always undertaken in accordance with Australian legislation.

Defence, as a Commonwealth agency, is subject to the requirements of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). Defence will assess the potential impacts of TS19 in accordance with requirements set out in publications produced by the Department of the Environment and Energy (DoEE) in order to meet its obligations under the EPBC Act. In meeting the information standards necessary to conduct an assessment of TS19, Defence may engage the services of specialist environment and heritage consultants to ensure up to date information is used.

Defence will document the environmental assessment through the preparation of an Environmental Report that will be prepared following a process of consultation, research, field survey and desktop analysis. The purpose of the ER is to describe the environmental values of the area affected by the exercise, consider the potential for a notable environmental impact and identify measures necessary to avoid and mitigate impacts where practicable.

The environmental report and any supporting studies will be published on the TS19 website for public access.

Will a referral be submitted to the Minister for the Environment?

The design process for major exercises such as TS19 starts from the position that the exercise must not result in a significant impact to the environment under the EPBC Act, and that all necessary approvals and permits required for the conduct of the exercise will be obtained. The consultation program and associated environmental investigations and assessment that will be documented through the Environmental Report seek to identify aspects of the environment that need to be managed to avoid a significant impact, and as a result, avoid the need to formally refer the exercise.

The dynamic nature of exercise planning and limited time frames also limit the ability for a formal referral process to adequately address environmental concerns that may be raised. The engagement program and environmental assessment of TS19 seeks to ensure that stakeholder comments are considered early and also as the design for the exercise matures. Through the combination of regular engagement with regulators and all levels of government, and a robust Environmental Risk Assessment process the need to formally refer the exercise can be avoided.

What does the environmental management framework for a TS exercise include?

The common elements of the environmental management framework for all TS exercises include a diversity of control measures such as:

  • standard operating procedures designed to ensure safe conduct of activities in a way that avoids unnecessary impacts to the environment;
  • an exercise instruction issued by senior commanders that identifies among other things, the obligation of all participants to conform to environmental protection requirements;
  • an exercise-specific Environment Management Plan (EMP) that addresses aspects unique to the exercise which are not covered by standard operating procedure;
  • activity-specific conditions provided for under an Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC);
  • mobile environmental field teams that provide advice to commanders, monitor the effectiveness of environmental controls and enable rapid response to environmental incidents should they occur; and
  • environmental awareness videos and printed material that is provided to all exercise participants.

What consultation will Defence be conducting for the next TS exercise?

A program of consultation will be undertaken that includes engagement with communities, landholders, traditional owners and other key stakeholders, in addition to engagement with local, state and Commonwealth agencies.

Defence is investigating the use of a range of social media platforms to complement the traditional key elements of the consultation program, which include:

  • Provision of updates to the status of planning for TS19 through the Defence website, Exercise Talisman Sabre 19;
  • Face to face meetings with key stakeholders;
  • Workshops with regulators and other subject matter experts; and
  • Community-based meetings.

What is the time frame for consultation?

The consultation program will comprise a minimum of five major updates to the information available on the website:

  1. July 2018: the broad concept for TS19 will be described including all preliminary non-Defence areas being considered. Through this update Defence will be seeking general feedback on key environmental values that will need to be considered during the exercise design process.

  2. October 2018: the initial plan for the TS19 will be described. This update will identify changes to the concept as a result of feedback provided in response to the first major website update. Any new elements of the exercise that potentially affect communities or the environment will be identified with a further request for comment on matters that Defence should consider during the environmental assessment and exercise design process.

  3. February 2019: the final draft Environmental Report will be posted for public review and comment. This will include an overview of all engagement activities undertaken to date in addition to associated design evolutions that have resulted from the process of assessment and consultation. Defence will be seeking feedback on the environmental assessment in order to confirm the exercise concept and ensure all appropriate measures are incorporated in the environmental management framework.

  4. April/May 2019: the final major update to the website prior to conduct of TS19 will include a post-consultation report that provides feedback on comments received on the Environmental Report (ER) and any resulting changes.

  5. November/December 2019: following conclusion of TS19 a Post Exercise Environmental Report (PEER) will be produced that summarises the overall performance of environmental control measures and which also describes the actual impact to the environment. A key feature of the PEER is the ‘lessons learned’ section which will identify improvements for the next TS iteration in 2021.