Airport Environment Officer and Airport Building Controller FAQs
Q: What measures exist to protect the environment at leased federal airports?
A: The Airports Act 1996 (the Act) provides a system for regulating the 21 leased federal airports. This includes environmental management for 19 of the Airports. The Act also provides that for each of the 19 airports there is to be a airport environment strategy (AES) approved by the responsible Minister. In accordance with recent changes to the Act, the AES is now a component of the Master Plan process.
The Airports (Environment Protection) Regulations 1997 (the Regulations) are made under section 252 of the Act. The Regulations detail general duty requirements of Airport Lessee Companies (ALC); and identify and define procedures and standards to be employed in determining the level and impact of air, water and soil pollution and excessive ground based noise. The Regulations also set out in detail content requirements for environment strategies; the environment standards; the monitoring and reporting regime and the enforcement provisions for environmental matters specified in the Act and Regulations.
Q: The Airports (Environment Protection) Regulations provide a general duty that protects the environment from harm in relation to pollution. How is it determined whether that general duty has been breached?
A: The general duty is deemed to have been breached if a substance is emitted above a level outlined in the air, water or soil schedules in the Airports (Environment Protection) Regulations.
Q: When is a draft Airport Environment Strategy required to be provided to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport for approval?
A: A draft AES is required to be submitted with the draft Master Plan and must relate to the first five years of the Master Plan.
Q: What is the time period over which a preliminary draft Airport Environment Strategy is required to be available for public comment?
A: The Airports Act 1996 states that a preliminary draft AES, as a component of a draft Master Plan, is required to be available for a public comment period of 60 business days prior to Ministerial submission.
Q: Once an Airport Environment Strategy is in place, how does the Department of Infrastructure and Transport monitor whether the commitments contained within the strategy are being honoured?
A: Under the Airports (Environment Protection) Regulations, an ALC with an approved AES in place, is required to provide an Annual Report to the Department of Infrastructure and Transport made against the commitments contained within the AES. Compliance is also monitored on a day to day basis by the Department's Airport Environment Officers.
Q: What other Commonwealth environment legislation applies at airports regulated under the Airports Act 1996 and associated regulations?
A: The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, Australian Heritage Council Act 2003, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 apply at leased federal airports. The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities administers these pieces of legislation.
Q: What is the role of the Airport Environment Officer?
A: Airport Environment Officers (AEOs) are employed by the Department to assist with the administration of the Airports (Environment Protection) Regulations 1997 (the Regulations). AEOs have a number of specific statutory functions under the Airports Act 1996 and the Regulations.
Q: How does the Department of Infrastructure and Transport select their Airport Environment Officers?
A: Airport Environment Officers are officers of the Department of Infrastructure and Transport. They are selected through standard Departmental recruitment processes and are required to hold qualifications and experience suitable for the day to day oversight of the operation of the Regulations.
Q: How can I contact an Airport Environment Officer?
A: Airport Environment Officers are located on or near the leased federal airport they oversee. Contact details can be located at:
Q: Who is the Airport Building Controller?
A: The Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure and Transport has appointed an Airport Building Controller (ABC) at each leased federal airport. The ABC is responsible for ensuring that activities at leased airports meet the appropriate building and engineering standards.
Q: What construction and building activities at leased federal airports require approval?
A: All construction and building activities must be notified to the Airport Building Controller (ABC). These activities cover, for example, new buildings, terminals, hangars, shop fit-outs and civil works including runways, taxiways, roads and drains. Demolition activities are also included as building activities. Appropriate building activities require ABC approval to carry out the building activity. A formal application to the ABC and payment of the associated fee are required. If proponents are unsure whether a proposed building activity requires an approval, they are advised to consult the relevant ABC at the airport.
Q: Do all building activities at airports require an approval, including minor alterations and maintenance?
A: Under the Regulations, minor building and construction activities, including repairs and alterations, do not require a formal application, but must be brought to the attention of the ABC.
Q: What does the approval process involve?
A: The specific process for the approval of building and construction activities is set out in the Airports (Building Control) Regulations 1996. Copies of the Regulations and further details and procedures can be obtained from the ABC.
Q: What Building and Construction Standards are applied at leased airports?
A: For the majority of work involving buildings, the relevant standards can be found in the Building Code of Australia (BCA), as applied in the State/Territory in which the building activity is taking place. Where no such standard is available, a recognised international standard or performance objective determined by engineering assessment in accordance with the BCA will be used.
Q: How does an Airport Building Controller deal with developments that fall outside the BCA, for example aerobridges?
A: Where the BCA does not apply (e.g. in relation to civil engineering works such as roads and bridges, or specific aeronautical structures such as aerobridges, hangars, etc) the relevant standards will be specified by the ABC in the Airport Building Controller Operations Manual. Generally these will be approved Australian standards, or where no such standard is available, a recognised international standard.
Q: When is a certificate of compliance required?
A: A certificate of compliance is required for all building and construction work that requires formal approval by the ABC. Certificates are issued by the ABC after application and the payment of the associated fee. A certificate of occupancy is required before a building can be occupied and a certificate of use is required before other electrical or engineering works can be used. A number of transitional arrangements apply.
Q: Can private certification be used?
A: In line with Australian trends in building approval and certification, the Regulations allow for the ABC to rely on expert certificates provided by third parties.
Q: What is the role of the Airport Lessee Company in the building approval process?
A: The consent of the Airport Lessee Company (ALC) is required before any approval can be given by the ABC. The ALC will review all applications to ensure that the proposal is consistent with the airport master plan, to ensure the development is consistent with their planning objectives and to assess the impact of the proposal on infrastructure and the operations of the airport. The ALC also has the power to impose appropriate conditions on building activities.
Q: Can I appeal a decision of the ABC?
A: The regulations provide for appeals to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal from decisions made by the ALC or the ABC.
Q: What is the role of State or Territory laws in the building control process at leased federal airports?
A: Generally State and Territory laws in respect of building approvals and planning have no effect at leased federal airports. However, State and Territory law with respect to the registration of builders and other construction professionals, builder insurance, occupational health and safety, and fire safety apply at leased federal airports.
Q: How did the Department of Infrastructure and Transport select its Airport Building Controllers?
A: The Department of Infrastructure and Transport selected professional and experienced building control professionals for each airport through a competitive tender process.