I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister Assisting the Minister for Environment and Conservation a question regarding farm waste disposal.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: A constituent has raised with me concerns that the government intends to change the regulation of farm waste disposal or farm dumps. Following inquiries with the EPA, I received a written response on 1 July this year which contains a draft of a document entitled ‘Solid waste disposal on farms’ which is dated as issued July 2004. The accompanying letter from the CE, Dr Paul Vogel, which is dated 27 June 2004, states that the recently drafted guideline ‘reflects the standards that this agency has been applying in South Australia over the last few years’. The letter also states:
Although the [EPA] act was proclaimed in 1995, the EPA [Environment Protection Authority] has become aware that many landowners within South Australia may not be aware of the implications of these provisions.
My questions are:
1. Will the minister guarantee to the farming community that there will be no changes to the interpretation of the act as stated in the CE’s letter?
2. Which stakeholder groups have been consulted and what has been their response?
3. Why has it taken so long for guidelines to be developed?
4. How many licensed dumps are there and how many of these are private versus community dumps?
5. Will the minister guarantee that enforcement will not be retrospective and that the EPA will adopt an educative role in the first instance?
6. Will the government exempt fencing wire and iron from being required to be disposed of in a licensed dump?
The Hon. T.G. ROBERTS (Minister Assisting the Minister for Environment and Conservation): I will refer those very important questions to the minister in another place and bring back a reply.
Thursday 14 April 2005
In reply to Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (19 July 2004).
The Hon. T.G. ROBERTS: The Minister for Environment and Conservation has advised that:
1. It is acknowledged that it is important to provide certainty to the farming community in respect to their obligations under the Environment Protection Act 1993 (the Act) to properly manage solid waste materials on their properties. The development of the draft guideline was pursued by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to clearly define obligations under the Act.
Any changes to the regulation of activities as a result of changes to environmental standards will be carefully considered and will be based on the best available information, evidence and contemporary approaches to implementation and will also involve consultation with stakeholder groups.
2. Representatives from the EPA met with the Natural Resource Committee of the South Australian Farmers Federation (SAFF) to discuss the draft guideline, and the EPA extended its consultation timeframe to allow SAFF to consult more widely with its members prior to submitting comment.
The EPA also wrote to each of the following organisations to seek comment on the draft guideline:
All South Australian local councils, through the Local Government Association of South Australia;
Zero Waste SA;
Waste Management Association of Australia (South Australian Branch);
Department of Primary Industries and Resources, South Australia; and the
Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation.
The EPA is awaiting comment from some of the stakeholder organisations. In light of this it is not possible at this time to provide detail on all comments received.
3. Since being established, the EPA has constantly balanced the use of its resources for the development of guidance documents with the operational roles as required by the Environment Protection Act 1993.
The EPA continues to identify, develop and revise guidance documents as environmental issues emerge. The issue of unlicensed waste disposal on private land is only one of these emerging issues and a draft guideline is now being developed.
4. There are 205 licensed landfills currently receiving waste in South Australia, 163 of which are identified as community “dumps”.
5. The draft guideline document is an important stage in defining the minimum requirements for landowners and it clearly establishes the expectations relating towaste disposal on private properties. One of the main purposes of this document will be to raise awareness in the community of their existing responsibilities under the Act.
The EPA has undertaken to widely distribute the guideline as soon as it is finalised.
The retrospectivity issues in relation to this matter are complex, however, the EPA will consider a range of measures that may be taken to address unlicensed disposal sites where ongoing environmental harm is occurring.
6. The Act does not provide an exemption in relation to the disposal of fencing wire and iron.
However, fencing wire and iron, and other ferrous materials, are valuable source materials that can be recycled within South Australia. The Government of South Australia, through initiatives such as the establishment of ZeroWaste SA, has prioritised the interception of waste materials to improve resource sustainability.
Instead of providing exemptions, it will be preferable to direct these materials to material recycling industries to assist in the longterm objective of resource sustainability in this State.