Compliance and enforcement
The department's compliance program for the petroleum, geothermal and greenhouse gas storage sector includes a range of activities to ensure operators comply with laws and policies affecting the industry.
At the heart of its approach is the goal of encouraging voluntary compliance with environmental obligations. This is done by actively engaging with companies and individuals subject to environmental regulation through activities such as education and awareness-raising.
However, it is important that these activities are complemented by a strong compliance and enforcement framework, which includes conducting planned and unplanned inspections, to act as a deterrent to legislative non-compliance.
The department aims to:
- ensure industry operators understand their obligations under Queensland law
- encourage industry operators to voluntarily comply with these obligations
- work with government, business, industry and the community to improve performance
- take a consistent approach to non-compliance and to deter further non-compliance
- ensure public and stakeholder confidence in the transparency and effectiveness of the regulatory framework and
- respond to and investigate community concerns and intelligence received regarding industry operators and activities.
The department has undertaken significant work to revitalise and reshape its proactive compliance methodology and framework to provide improved utilisation of compliance resources to target the highest risks to the environment and monitor performance of clients. These important changes will provide a fundamental shift in how the department provides better environmental outcomes for Queensland.
The department is moving away from annual compliance planning and reporting towards a new dynamic framework which will allow a more rapid and timely response to emerging trends or changes in risk. The new framework will continue to provide accountability and transparency with the added benefit of allowing greater flexibility to respond to changing risks to the environment and identify areas where immediate action is needed to address poor performance or mitigate environmental harm.
To support this new compliance approach, the department is upgrading its systems to collect and analyse more detailed information to improve compliance planning. This will enable the department to determine which industries and customers are not meeting their expected environmental outcomes and to focus efforts on working with these customers to achieve compliance.
The Compliance Steering Committee, comprised of representatives from each operational compliance area of the department, will provide governance for the new compliance framework. This will ensure a consistent, appropriate and strategic approach to compliance and enforcement activities across the state.
Regular updates on the department’s compliance activities will continue to be provided to the public. These updates will highlight how the department has achieved its goals of protecting the environment and monitoring and responding to our customers’ environmental performance. In addition, the department will remain focussed on its ongoing commitment to improve public accessibility to compliance information. Further details are coming soon.
The government's aim in enforcement is to ensure its responses are:
- proportionate to the conduct involved
- consistent with past responses to similar conduct
- completed in a timely fashion.
The department's enforcement guidelines provide guidance on choosing an enforcement response, and informing those regulated about the standards that are expected when their activities affect Queensland's natural assets.
A wide range of enforcement measures are available. Each piece of legislation has its own suite of enforcement measures, but generally they consist of the following:
- encouraging voluntary compliance through education and self-regulation
- strategic compliance audits and site impact programs
- working with other agencies
- verbal warning and warning letters
- infringement notices
- administrative and court orders to stop an activity or to take action to remedy a breach or both
- cancellation, suspension or amendment of licence, lease or other permits
Resource community infoline
The Resource community infoline provides a single point of contact for members of the public to report incidents and make complaints and general enquiries.
The Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy may, as appropriate, refer certain complaints, enquiries or report of incidents to the Department of Environment and Science, so it can provide a response or conduct further investigations as required.
The Resource community infoline can be contacted via 13 71 07 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.