Industrial land use
Commencement of new standards postponed
The Queensland Government will defer the commencement of the new sediment and nutrient emission standards for new, expanded or intensified point source activities under the Reef protection regulations until 1 June 2021. The deferment is in direct response to COVID-19 coronavirus) and ensures the agricultural community and industry have a full opportunity to provide feedback and a suitable amount of time to prepare for the changes.
When introduced, the requirements will 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).
From 1 June 2021 (deferred 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 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.