Industrial land use
The Reef protection regulations apply to new, expanded or intensified regulated industrial land use activities that release nutrients and sediment, such as sewage and water treatment plants, land-based aquaculture or mining (point source pollution) as well diffuse source pollution from agricultural activities.
From 1 December 2020, these activities will be required to meet new discharge standards to ensure new development does not worsen nutrient or sediment pollutant loads (no residual impact). These activities are already regulated under the Environment Protection Act 1994 and require assessment against a range of criteria including the Great Barrier Reef Basins End-of-Basin Load Water Quality Objectives.
This 12-month transitional period gives operators time to adapt to the new requirements. Existing point source emitters will not need to change their practices unless they expand or significantly change operations in a way that would require a new or amended environmental authority. Where existing operators significantly change their operations to reduce discharge loads, or where new operations can demonstrate no residual impact to receiving waters from their activity, the no residual impact requirement would be met.
If this cannot be achieved through design or operating conditions, the Point Source Water Quality Offsets Policy will guide what offsets can be used to achieve a no residual impact.
The Queensland Government is also working with councils and the urban development industry to better manage urban run-off.