Recommendations to strengthen regulators action on odour, nuisance

Published Friday, 26 May, 2023 at 12:30 PM

Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Minister for Multicultural Affairs
The Honourable Leanne Linard

  • Queensland will strengthen its environmental framework to better tackle issues like odour, following a review by retired Environment and Planning Court judge Richard Jones and former Senior Crown Prosecutor Barrister Susan Hedge.
  • The review found Queensland is consistent with comparable legislation in other states and territories, but the review made 18 recommendations – all of which have been supported or supported in-principle by the government.

An independent review into the powers and penalties under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 has made 18 recommendations on how Queensland’s laws can better protect the community and environment.

The review was ordered after floods in Ipswich last year exacerbated odour issues coming from waste facilities.

The review recommendations include:

  • Greater emphasis should be placed on the concepts of human health, wellbeing, and safety, which will protect the community.
  • Amendments to the definitions of environmental nuisance, and material and serious environmental harm to make it clear that certain emissions, such as odour, may also be considered material or serious environmental harm.
  • Creating a new offence of contravening the existing general environmental duty.
    • This will place an emphasis on prevention by operators rather than reactively waiting for harm to occur to the environment.
    • Improved community safeguards while environmental harm is addressed.
  • Ensuring environmental authority (EA) conditions remain fit for purpose, and to ensure they remain in force if an EA is cancelled or suspended.

The Palaszczuk Government has now supported or supported in-principle all recommendations to make sure powers and penalties in relation to issues like odour can meet community expectations.

Retired judge Richard Jones and former Senior Crown Prosecutor Barrister Susan Hedge conducted the review which considered if the Environmental Protection Act has adequate compliance powers and appropriate penalties to protect the environment and community from environmental harm.

Richard Jones served as a judge of Queensland’s District Court and Planning and Environment Court for more than a decade before retiring from the bench in 2021.

The government will now proceed with relevant legislative steps and consultation to implement the recommendations.

Quotes attributable to the Minister Linard:

“The Ipswich community has been very clear: after last year’s floods, they want to see companies clean up their act.

“Every level of government has an important role to play in protecting our environment, and the Palaszczuk Government is committed to strengthening the regulator’s efforts.

“This comprehensive review by Mr Jones and Ms Hedge will help ensure state environmental odour laws are modernised and fit for purpose to meet the needs of the community.

“We will now make the necessary changes to ensure that it can take timely and effective action where the community is negatively impacted by operations.

“I am confident these recommendations will give the environmental regulator the ability to take stronger and more effective action against individuals and companies who put Queensland’s environment at risk.”

Quotes attributable to Member for Bundamba Lance McCallum:

“Companies that do the wrong thing by our community and the environment, including ongoing odour issues from waste facilities, should be held to full account.

“Our community expects the independent environmental regulator to be able to take strong action where companies are doing the wrong thing, and this review gives them more tools to do exactly that.

“I welcome the government’s commitment to implement these important recommendations, and I look forward to having the recommendations implemented as quickly as possible.”

Quotes attributable to Member for Ipswich Jennifer Howard:

This is a terrific outcome for Ipswich people who have been living with serious odour issues for decades.

The Palaszczuk Government has heard our concerns and acted, first with the establishment of the Odour Abatement Taskforce and now by acting on recommendations from this report.”

Further information:

The Independent Review of Powers and Penalties report and the Queensland Government’s response can be viewed here.


Media contact – Scott Chandler (07) 3719 7339