Changes to operating hours for extractives operations

By on November 18, 2020

DR ELIZABETH GIBSON, General Manager of the CMPA reports on the meeting held with DJPR.

A meeting (Microsoft teams) was held with DJPR to discuss the proposed Changes to Operating hours for extractives operations – Consultation draft for industry (7 October 2020).

The following is taken from the presentation made by DJPR.


  • Changes to operating hours may be required to meet fluctuating demand, manage Covid-19 operational risks, and may only be required for certain activities like loading and sales.
  • Earth Resources Regulation is changing its approach to operating hours to provide greater flexibility and clearer approval pathways.
  • This presentation sets out a proposal for your feedback:
    • Proposed new process for assessing changes to operating hours
    • Requirements for an application to change operating hours
    • Demonstrating ability to meet EPA standards
    • Two-step process for permanent changes
    • Changing the way operating hours are recorded

Proposed new process for assessing changes to operating hours

  • Proposed 3 month trial period – administrative update process
    • if change is low or medium risk, and no planning permit change required
    • can be used as a trial period to support long term and permanent changes.
  • Long term (>3months) and permanent changes require a variation to the work plan
  • Applicants must demonstrate ability to meet EPA standards e.g. NIRV and SEPP N1

Application requirements for changes to operating hours

  • Provide risk assessment of changes: Authority holder should conduct a risk assessment and provide a risk management plan outlining controls that reduce risks to sensitive receptors as low as reasonably practicable. Types of activities intended for operation during extended hours should be considered e.g. loading and sales
  • Demonstrate can meet EPA standards: Applicants can demonstrate how they will meet and maintain compliance with the relevant EPA state environment protection policies and guidelines.
  • Consult with community, Council and EPA: If changes would impact amenity for nearby residents, evidence that the community has been appropriately consulted on proposed changes. Must provide written evidence from council on whether a planning permit amendment is required. Evidence of consultation with the EPA
  • Appropriate monitoring and reporting: Authority holder should propose a monitoring and reporting plan – to be agreed with Earth Resources Regulation depending on the risks and proximity of sensitive receptors

EPA standards: compliance, monitoring and reporting

  • Compliance with SEPP N-1 limits or NIRV recommendedlevel as applicable
    • Applicant should follow procedures in applicable standard to determine noise limits
    • Undertake acoustic modelling to demonstrate they will be able to comply
    • Appropriate monitoring at boundary or sensitive receptors, and reporting on that monitoring:
    • validates acoustic modelling
    • triggers further investigation where limits are exceeded and mitigation where required
    • supports community engagement and compliance activities.
  • Where the risk to sensitive receptors is significant (i.e. urban/metro areas), authority holders will be required to:
    • establish, maintain and operate appropriate compliance monitoring, which may include continuous monitoring
    • provide transparent public reporting to demonstrate compliance with relevant standards.

Two step process for permanent changes

Step 1: 3-month trial period – Administrative update

ERR will allow temporary changes to operating hours for up to 3 months to enable an operator to validate acoustic modelling to support a work plan variation application.

WA holder must provide acoustic modelling and evidence of consultation with community, the EPA and Council

WA holder must commit to noise monitoring for 3 months and commit to investigating noise limit/ level exceedances and where necessary, further mitigation measures

WA holder to provide regular monitoring reports to ERR as agreed

Step 2 Work plan variation permanent change

WA holder must apply for work plan variation within 3 months of the administrative update

WA holder to provide risk assessment, management plan and community engagement plan updates as per work plan guidelines, based on outcomes of monitoring

Where WA holder has demonstrated compliance with noise limits – permitted to continue extended hours pending work plan variation approval

NOTE: If a planning permit is required, the two step process cannot be used as a work plan variation must be submitted for any proposed change.

Changing the way operating hours are recorded

Earth Resources Regulation has recognised that it does not need to mandate prescriptive operating hours in every work plan

Operating hours are, however, commonly used as an effective and straight forward control for managing risks to sensitive receptors

When authority holders apply for a work plan variation, Earth Resources Regulation will give them the opportunity to alter the way operating hours are recorded in the work plan or in some cases remove them:

  • This aims to simplify the process for changing operating hours for subsequent applications
  • Where there are risks to sensitive receptors, demonstration of compliance with standards as described in this presentation will be required.”

CMPA Submission

Please see the following specific comments

Currently, the greatest hurdle to overcome is the change to the planning permit which appears not to be addressed here.

Apart from the 3 month trial period by administrative change, it is a struggle to identify any change from the current process. In the majority of Work Authority cases the planning permit will stipulate hours and therefore this whole process becomes completely irrelevant. The fact that RRAMS erroneously mandates operating hours also has led to a confused process. Additionally, noted is that where the risk is determined significant to sensitive receptors (urban/metro) then continuous monitoring may be required.

In Members’ very recent experience it is extremely difficult to demonstrate compliance with unattended continuous noise monitoring and therefore a very expensive exercise. If EPA and council accept that the change in operating hours process is followed, then there should be no need to consult with them for low and medium risk changes. If ERR are nominated to regulate the process, then there should be no need to update the planning permit either.

In summary, the proposed change in operating hours process does not demonstrate any reduction in red tape.

Thank you to all CMPA Members that assisted in preparation of this submission.

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