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 changes to the Act in 2010, 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 Regional Development 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 Regional Development 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 Regional Development 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 Environment 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 Regional Development select their Airport Environment Officers?
A: Airport Environment Officers are officers of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development. 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: https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/infrastructure-transport-vehicles/aviation/airports/airport-planning-regulation/airport-environmental-management/contacts.