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Compliance and enforcement

The department administers over 25 legislative Acts to manage the health of the environment, to protect Queensland’s unique ecosystems and to identify and conserve the state's built heritage. The legislation includes the following Acts:

  • Coastal Protection and Management Act 1995
  • Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011
  • Environmental Protection Act 1994
  • Nature Conservation Act 1992
  • Queensland Heritage Act 1992
  • Sustainable Planning Act 2009
  • Water Act 2000 (Chapter 3)
  • Wet Tropics World Heritage Protection and Management Act 1993.

As the Queensland Government’s environmental regulator, the department’s approach to ensuring compliance with its legislation is to:

  • educate individuals, industry and governments about the laws and how to comply with them
  • encourage voluntary compliance with obligations
  • monitor compliance
  • reward good performers
  • respond to breaches of the legislation with consistent and proportionate enforcement action.

These activities can happen in 2 ways—they can be reactive in response to a complaint or incident, or they can be proactive. 

To help industry improve its compliance practices the department will set clear expectations about acceptable standards of environmental performance, as well as publishing easy to understand guidance material and information about how to meet those expectations.

This information will assist industry to better understand its responsibilities in achieving good environmental practices, and give operators every opportunity to know what they need to do to meet their obligations. The department acknowledges the growing importance of building an improved voluntary compliance culture within industry.

For those industry members who choose not to comply with their obligations, the department will be consistent in taking prompt, strong enforcement action. This action will demonstrate to industry members that act responsibly, and the broader community, that there are consequences for poor performance. 

In addition, the department will consider the performance of operators when developing its compliance activities each year. This information is combined with a range of other available information about the risks of particular activities to ensure that the department’s proactive activities are targeted.

Enforcement guidelines

Decisions about appropriate enforcement action are informed by a set of guidelines (PDF, 163K)*.

The guidelines—updated in February 2014—explain how the department determines the enforcement action it may take on the basis of the seriousness of the breach of legislation. The department publishes the guidelines to ensure its enforcement responses:

  • are proportionate to the conduct
  • are consistent with past responses for similar conduct
  • occur in a timely fashion.

Changes to penalty infringement notices

Penalty Infringement Notices (PINs) can be issued for a wide range of offences relating to environmental and heritage matters—which are prescribed in the State Penalties Enforcement Regulation 2000 (SPER).

The changes to the SPER have resulted in an increased number of infringement notice offences as well as increases to existing PIN amounts. All PINs issued under the legislative Acts the department administers, after 1 September 2014, will reflect these changes to the SPER.

These changes align with the implementation of the department’s updated Regulatory Strategy. For further information about the changes to PINs, please refer to the compliance alert—Changes to Penalty Infringement Notices (PDF, 96K)*.

What to do if you have received a PIN?

Visit the Queensland Government’s Penalty infringement notices (environment and heritage matters) webpage for further details on: paying the fine, voluntary instalment plans, unpaid PINs, disputing the offence, making a statutory declaration, and electing to have the matter heard in court.

Previous annual compliance plan

View the previous annual compliance plan for 2013–­14 (PDF, 349K)*

Previous annual compliance plan reports

View the mid-year report (PDF, 146K)* 

View the end-of-year report (PDF, 294K)*

Powers of authorised officers

One way the department achieves compliance with the Acts it administers is through targeted, risk-based inspections conducted by authorised persons of sites impacting on or posing a risk to the environment.

The Environmental Regulation—Authorised persons information sheet (PDF, 222K)* provides an overview of the roles, powers and activities of the department’s authorised officers under the Environmental Protection Act 1994.

Environmental Regulatory Update e-newsletter

As part of its commitment to being transparent, the department publishes compliance and enforcement-related information online. The Environmental Regulatory Update e-newsletter is a regular e-mail bulletin sent to subscribers to increase their awareness of important compliance and enforcement information, including prosecution bulletins.

Previous Environmental Regulatory Update e-newsletters are available and you can subscribe to receive future e-newsletters.

Compliance alerts 

The department is committed to providing guidance material that tells clients how they can comply with their environmental obligations. The department publishes compliance alerts that discuss common compliance issues relevant to a particular sector.

The compliance alerts will include a description of problems encountered, the strategies that clients can implement to address those problems, and case studies that provide practical examples of the consequences of those problems.

Prosecution bulletins 

To educate clients and the community about the department’s enforcement actions, the department will publish prosecution bulletins to a new page that summarises the facts and outcomes of prosecutions finalised by the department.

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Last updated
10 September 2014