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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 January 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.

Compliance and Enforcement Framework Strategy

Annual compliance plans

The department’s annual compliance plan for 2013–­14 (PDF, 349K)* informs the Queensland community of its planned compliance activities and proactively addresses the greatest risks to Queensland’s environment and heritage.

View the previous compliance plan (PDF, 235K)*.

Annual compliance plan reports

The department monitors and reports on the proactive compliance activities it undertakes as part of its annual compliance plan program through a mid-year report and an end-of year report.

The mid-year report (PDF, 146K)* provides an update on the progress achieved in meeting the targets outlined in the annual compliance plan during the first and second quarters of the reporting period (July to December).

The end-of-year report (PDF, 294K)* details all activities undertaken during the reporting period (July to June) and the outcomes of the compliance projects undertaken. The reports further provide information on the number of incidents and complaints the department has responded to as well as the enforcement actions taken during the reporting period. These reports affirm the department’s commitment to transparency in the way that compliance activities are carried out.

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.

Compliance update e-newsletter

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

Previous Compliance Update e-newsletters are available and you can subscribe to receive future e-newsletters by email.

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.

To receive prosecution bulletins and other information on the department’s compliance program, email with ‘subscribe’ in the subject line.

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Last updated
1 July 2014