DPI Update (Issue 61)

By on February 12, 2012

COLIN THORNTON, Acting General Manager Minerals & Extractive Operations, reports on the DPI Targeted Audit Program & RRAM.

AUDIT PROGRAM

Invasive plants and pest animals are an ongoing problem throughout the Victorian Earth Resources Industry requiring impacted sites to commit resources each year in combating the problems created.

In the second half of 2011 the state-wide targeted audit program partially focused on pest plants and animals. These audits were undertaken as a follow up to a similar program conducted in the second half of 2008.

Some audits were conducted in conjunction with officers from the DPI Biosecurity agency, and resulted in visits to 34 quarries and 6 mine sites across the state. The program was complemented by other audits aimed at various issues including hydrocarbon storage and dust management.

Many sites that were identified in the 2008 program as having weed or pest problems have been subject to ongoing inspection by Earth Resources Inspectors and so the sites for the current program were chosen on the basis of further weed issues identified during site inspections, from ERC meetings, and from reports received from the public and from other DPI officers.

The primary focus of the audits was on systems implemented to control pests including documented plans, implemented control measures and treatment programmes and training for staff and contractors. Identification of priority weed species was also addressed.

Under the Catchment and Land Protection (CaLP) Act 1994 certain plants are declared as noxious weeds in Victoria. Twelve nationally recognised Weeds of National Significance (WONS) species were declared in Victoria as restricted weeds. These weeds are subject to a national control program and the audits identified several of these.

Although the primary responsibility for managing pest plants and animals at a quarry rests with the tenement holder and site manager there is no legal requirement for Victorian land owners or managers to eradicate or control WONS species on their land. However, the removal or sale of soil, sand, gravel or stone containing, or likely to contain any part of these plants or seeds or which comes from land on which they grow is prohibited.

A further number of State Prohibited & Regionally Prohibited Weeds were also identified by the audits. Land owners are required to eradicate State Prohibited Weeds if possible from Victoria and under Section 70(1) of the CaLP Act the Victorian Government may direct land owners/managers to prevent their growth and spread. In the case of Regionally Prohibited weeds land occupiers must take all reasonable steps to eradicate these weeds on their land.

It was encouraging to note that the level of knowledge regarding Priority Weeds and pest animals on the sample of sites audited had increased since 2008 and the proportion of sites with active control measures and treatment programs in place had increased. Almost 70% of sites visited had an adequate knowledge of the Priority Noxious Weeds in their area while over 60% had sought assistance from suitably qualified people in regard to control and treatment programs.

Overall, the most successful sites in managing their pest plants and animal issues have a coordinated approach using integrated weed management controls and involving all affected landholders and establishing a partnership that includes adjacent landholders, local
shire/council officers and the community.

The integrated weed management approach to land management combines the use of complementary control methods such as herbicide application, land fallowing and biological control. The resulting combinations provided the best solutions to weed problems for quarry managers.

RESOURCES RIGHTS ALLOCATION & MANAGEMENT (RRAM)

The current business systems supporting the earth resources are using old and now obsolete technologies which are increasingly difficult to maintain and in some cases no longer supported by technology vendors. RRAM – an initiative being undertaken by the Earth Resources and Fisheries branches of DPI will provide an integrated, secure and maintainable resource allocation and management business and system capability within DPI. It will streamline current business processes and replace outdated and obsolete IT systems, delivering on the following objectives:

  • Protect Victoria’s fishing resources for future generations
  • Attract new, and secure existing, investment in Victoria’s earth resources industries
  • Support the emergence of new market opportunities including geothermal energy, geosequestration and aquaculture
  • Provide increased certainty of access to allocated natural resource rights and improve compliance with allocated rights
  • Reduce the administrative burden, and improve operational effectiveness of the regulation functions that support them.

These objectives will be achieved through a comprehensive business and technology change program that will deliver:

  • Online application, renewal and transfer of resource access rights (exploration, tenements, licenses and quota units)
  • Consolidated resource allocation, stakeholder and asset data repository
  • Integrated compliance management, reporting and analysis capability (including advanced spatial analysis & resource tracking)
  • Mobile access to systems for field based staff
  • Streamlined and consolidated business processes
  • Industry and community stakeholder engagement and change programs.

Final development of RRAM is well advanced and initial staff training is taking place. It is anticipated that the system which will provide a framework for the issuing and management of all tenements will be rolled out internally in the second quarter of the year. RRAM is being designed to allow direct interaction with tenement holders, although external access to the system will be progressively introduced to allow initial bedding down of the new processes.

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