Compliance and enforcement

    As the Queensland Government’s environmental regulator the department manages and monitors environmental risk through a range of assessment, compliance, investigation and enforcement activities.

    To ensure compliance with legislation, the department:

    • educates individuals, industry and governments about the laws and how to comply with them
    • encourages voluntary compliance with obligations
    • monitors compliance
    • rewards good performers
    • responds to breaches of the legislation with consistent and proportionate enforcement action.

    To help build a culture of improved voluntary compliance within industry and improve compliance practices the department and has published guidance material and supporting information to help industry understand how to meet its environmental obligations and achieve good environmental practices.

    Compliance planning and priorities

    All licensed environmentally relevant activities in Queensland have had their risks assessed and expected standards of controls put in place through the enforceable conditions of environmental authorities.

    It is the responsibility of the licence holder to comply with the strong environmental standards and obligations required by law and, where a potential environmental risk has been identified, to have appropriate and effective control measures in place to minimise the potential for environmental harm. For example, a tank storing a hazardous chemical has a risk of leaking that can be controlled by maintaining a secondary containment system to capture the chemical in the event of a leak occurring.

    The department’s compliance program targets those activities that pose the greatest potential risk to Queensland’s environment and communities. Monitoring licensed operators through regular proactive and reactive compliance activities helps identify breaches and areas of poor performance.

    The departmentalso targets unlicensed activities that can pose risks to environment and communities that have not been assessed and controlled, such as illegal tyre storages that can be fire and pollution risks. Fortunately most Queensland businesses seek to do the right thing. For those that don’t the department uses a variety of community, industry and technology-based intelligence sources to identify illegal operations and target them for compliance and enforcement.

    Our compliance planning

    Our compliance planning is based on:

    • Annual Strategic Compliance Priorities 2020–2021 (PDF, 100.4KB)
    • Prioritised Targeted Compliance Programs—identify and manage issues that pose significant environmental risk.
    • Prioritised Unplanned Compliance Events—response to community reports, emerging intelligence and events that have a significant or immediate risk.
    • Compliance Prioritisation Model—identifies possible risk for all locations in Queensland that are licensed to carry out environmentally relevant activities under the Environmental Protection Act 1994.
    • Regional compliance plans—Queensland is a large state and within it there are different community, industry and environmental drivers that can influence regional compliance plans. For example the north Queensland wet season is typically more significant than in southern parts of the state. Quarterly compliance planning undertaken in each of our four compliance regions (North, Central, Southeast and Southwest) ensures that regional priority risks are accounted for.

    Enforcement action

    The department has set clear expectations about acceptable standards of environmental performance and takes prompt, strong enforcement action against those operators who choose not to comply with their obligations to demonstrate the consequences for poor performance.

    The following guidelines govern how the department makes decisions about appropriate enforcement action.

    Enforcement guidelines

    Penalty infringement notices

    Penalty Infringement Notices (PINs) can be issued for a wide range of offences relating to environmental matters—which are prescribed in the State Penalties Enforcement Regulation 2014.

    Visit the Queensland Government website for further information on penalty infringement notices (environment and heritage matters) including: paying a fine, voluntary instalment plans, unpaid PINs, disputing an offence, making a statutory declaration, electing to have a matter heard in court, or requesting a review of a littering or illegal dumping PIN.

    Outcomes of compliance activities

    The department regularly publishes information to help inform and educate operators and the community about its compliance and enforcement activities.

    • Prosecution bulletins
      Prosecution bulletins summarise the facts and outcomes of prosecutions finalised by the department.