Environmental Management Framework

Here are some suggestions for the sort of things you might like to include about The Environmental Management Framework in your submissions to the CIS Assessment Panel due 12 December 2013:

(i)            Whether the Environmental Management Framework in the CIS will provide an effective integrated approach to manage the environmental performance of the project.

CIS Chapter 17 describes how the LMA will ensure that the contractor is meeting performance requirements. This is the Environmental Management Framework (EMF).

  1. The EMF is intended to provide “Transparent, effective and accountable means of managing the environmental aspects of the project” (Chapter 17, p1).

It is difficult to understand how the process proposed in any way meets the transparent, effective and accountable requirements that it sets for itself. The entire process is set up and run by a closed group of the proponent (the Government), the delivery agency (the LMA) and the contractor with no genuine independent oversight apparent.  Given that many environmental impacts are permanent and cannot be undone it is surely essential that the review process be strong, independent and immediate, preferably reviewing actions before they are taken where they cannot be undone.  The proposed requirement for monthly reports (Section 15.5.1, p31) to include forward looking reporting on the proposed actions for the coming month is a good start but it needs to be provided to a genuinely independent reviewer.

2.   The EMF proposed does not provide any requirement for publication of:

  • the Environmental Management Plans developed by the contractor and approved by the Minister;
  • detailed risk assessments developed by the contractor;
  • compliance reports by the contractor, in particular notifications of non-compliance;
  • reports by regulators and agencies in respect of any non-compliance by the contractor;
  • audit results;
  • reviews or reports by the Independent Reviewer in relation to contractor’s compliance with the EMF; or
  • LMA advice, particularly in relation to any amendments deemed necessary for the construction EMP.

As the Victorian public has so far been denied access to the critical information underpinning the business case for the project, it is to be expected that these shortcomings will be reinforced by future commercial confidentialities that are placed around the project.

3.   The CIS fails to specify the remedies, sanctions or compensation mechanisms that will be available to the LMA, Government or wider community in the event of EMF requirement breaches.  This means that, except where any breach falls under a sanction provided for under an applicable legislative requirement, there is little incentive for the contractor to avoid such a breach in the future.  It also means that the public is denied any assurance that its interests are being considered – interests that could significantly impact health, quality of life, safety, etc

4.    Community consultation as defined in Chapter 17, section 17.1.1.  The LMA has responsibility to Conduct stakeholder engagement and community consultation activities (the contractor would be responsible for for community and stakeholder consultation arising from construction and operation activities)(Table 17-1). The contractor has responsibility to: “Consult with the community and stakeholders in relation to construction and operation activities.”

In light of the community engagement and consultation conducted by the LMA to date, which has been superficial and meaningless, this is clearly an inadequate requirement.  LMA have provided information and promotional material only. Meaningful engagement and consultation require seeking participation, feedback and input and then responding to it.

The EMF should be rewritten prior to commencement of the proposed project to include specific requirements for both the LMA and the contractor to actively engage the community in consultation, both prior to and after construction has commenced and to report publicly on the matters raised and the proposed responses to them.

The requirement for consultation should set out that the community must be properly consulted about, in addition to construction and operation activities, the Design Framework, any changes and amendments to the Design Framework, any non-compliance with the EMF, and any variations to the scope of works.

The EMF should also include the requirement for such consultation to take place on a regular basis, say monthly, and be widely publicised so that the community is aware of and can attend these consultations.  Matters raised and proposed response to them should also be required to published within a specified and short time after each consultation.