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Senator Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment

Media Release

Developing National Environmental Standards


22 June 1996
(76/96)

The National Environment Protection Council has taken significant steps in the development of national environmental standards.

The Council has held its first meeting in Perth, attended by Environment Ministers from all States and chaired by Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill.

The agenda for the meeting called for the Council to

Significant progress was made on all four issues.

1) The Council has agreed to the development of a draft measure to ensure a consistent approach to setting air quality goals across the nation. The measure will aim to set standards for the six major air pollutants. Phase I of the development will see a draft measure and an impact statement ready for release for public discussion by February 1997. The Commonwealth and the States have committed $495,000 to Phase I which will be coordinated by Victoria.

2) The Council has approved the development of national guidelines to provide a system of tracking hazardous waste across State and Territory boundaries. Ibis will reduce risks of hazardous wastes being dumped. 'Me draft guidelines and an impact statement should be ready for release for public discussion by January 1997. The Commonwealth and the States have committed $121,000 to the process which will be coordinated by South Australia.

3)The Council has agreed to work towards national guidelines for the assessment of contaminated sites. However the Council has noted that ANZECC and the NHMRC are currently reviewing existing guidelines under a Contaminated Sites Technical Review Committee. That committee is due to report by the end of this year. As this report will be relevant to the NEPC proposal, the Council has agreed that its work on developing national guidelines should not commence until the ANZECC/NHMRC report is released. The Commonwealth and the States have agreed to commit $242,000 to the process which will be coordinated by Western Australia.

4) The Council has agreed that the Commonwealth should proceed with its plans to develop a National Pollutant Inventory. The inventory would provide the community with information on emissions in air, land and water. The Commonwealth has already spent approximately $4 million on developing the NPI.

Senator Hill has congratulated the States and Territories on the positive approach taken by the Council to the important task of delivering enforceable national environmental standards.

"The progress made by the Council underlines the benefits to be achieved when the Commonwealth and States work together cooperatively to tackle issues of national importance."

For further information contact Matt Brown on 0419 693 515.

Commonwealth of Australia