29 May 2020
The Australian Capital Territory has passed COVID-19 related legislation, namely the COVID –19 Emergency Response Act 2020 (ACT) (ACT Act) effective from 8 April 2020 and the COVID-19 Emergency Response Legislation Amendment Act 2020 (ACT) notified on 13 May 2020. The Acts do not provide any new rights around development decision making. The ACT Act obliges relevant Ministers to report to Parliament monthly on the application of COVID-19 measures for as long as a COVID-19 declaration is in force.
Non-COVID related environmental regulation reforms
- Loose-fill Asbestos Legislation Amendment Act 2020, passed on 21 May 2020, which seeks to implement a range of initiatives to assist in managing any properties affected by loose-fill asbestos insultation that remain privately owned after 30 June 2020.
- Building and Construction Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 , introduced on 21 May 2020, amends laws that apply to building, construction and related work in the Territory, particularly the Building Act 2004; Building (General) Regulation 2008; and Construction Occupations (Licensing) Act 2004. The bill, among other things, introduces legislation for a residential building dispute resolution scheme in the ACT, implementing provisions that relate to the ACT Government’s Building Regulatory System reform program.
- Nature Conservation (Yellow Box –Blakely’s Red Gum Grassy Woodland) Conservation Advice 2020, 26 May 2020 – the ACT Scientific Committee has determined that the ecological community ‘Yellow Box –Blakely’s Red Gum Grassy Woodland’ is eligible to be transferred to the Critically Endangered category in the ACT Threatened Ecological Communities List under the Nature Conservation Act 2014 (ACT) (NC Act).
- Nature Conservation (Natural Temperate Grassland) Conservation Advice 2020, 26 May 2020 – the ACT Scientific Committee has determined that the ecological community ‘Natural Temperate Grassland is eligible to be transferred to the Critically Endangered category in the ACT Threatened Ecological Communities List under the NC Act. It was initially listed in the Endangered category in 1996.
- Nature Conservation Threatened Ecological Communities List 2020, 26 May 2020 – revokes and replaces the previous Nature Conservation Threatened Ecological Communities List 2019(NI2019–65).
- Nature Conservation (White-throated Needletail) Conservation Advice 2020, 25 May 2020 – recommending the listing of the White-throated Needletail in the Vulnerable category in the ACT Threatened Native Species List to align with the EPBC Act listing.
- Nature Conservation Threatened Native Species List 2020, 25 May 2020– revokes and replaces the Nature Conservation Threatened Native Species List 2019(NI2019–275).
- Environment Protection (Environmental Protection Agreement) Notice 2020 (No 1) 21 May 2020 – Environmental Protection Agreements have been entered into with regard to Management of contaminated sites –Part Block 3, Section 124 Weston, Weston Creek.
Courts: ACT courts are generally closed to the general public but journalists are still able to attend – see the practice direction here. Hearings may be heard in person still but other matters are to occur via telephone. For more information on ACT court responses to COVID-19, go here.