Environmental Protection (Powers and Penalties) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2024

Mar 19, 2024

The Environmental Protection (Powers and Penalties) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2024 was introduced into Queensland Parliament on 13 February 2024.  See media release: New laws to protect communities from environmental impacts – Ministerial Media Statements   

The Bill implements the Government’s response to the review of the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld) undertaken by retired Judge Richard Jones and Barrister Susan Hedge in 2022. (Independent Review of the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld) Report: Independent review into the adequacy of existing powers and penalties).

The Bill will give the environmental regulator additional tools to prevent environmental harm before it occurs. 

The changes will ensure there is appropriate emphasis on human health, wellbeing and safety in our environmental legislation, and shifts the focus to proactive prevention of environmental impacts.

Some of the key changes being proposed in the Bill include:

  • Ensuring that  environmental ‘nuisance’ can be considered serious or material environmental harm, which will in turn open up a broader range of compliance tools and stronger penalties to address persistent issues.
  • Combining a number of existing compliance notices (Direction Notices, Clean-up Notices and Environmental Protection Orders) into a new tool called an Environmental Enforcement Order (EEO) that can be used to require operators to improve on-site processes causing unacceptable environmental harm, such as persistent offensive odour.
  • introducing a new ‘General Environmental Duty’ offence which can be applied if someone fails to take reasonably practicable action to prevent or minimise material or serious environmental harm. 
  • introducing a ‘duty to restore environmental harm’ requiring operators to restore the environment to the condition it was in prior to an incident.

The Bill and explanatory notes can be viewed online at https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/Work-of-the-Assembly/Bills-and-Legislation/Bills-before-the-House

The Bill has been referred to the Health and Environment Parliamentary Committee.

This article originally appeared in the Environmental Regulatory Update newsletter authored by the Department of Environment, Science and Innovation Queensland.

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