Page 2548 - Week 07 - Monday, 15 August 2022

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(3) How many of the complaints, referred to in part (2), resulted in (a) visits by environmental officers to offending households, (b) letters sent to offending households, (c) warning notices issued to offending households, (d) breaches issued and (e) fines applied.

Ms Cheyne: The answer to the member’s question is as follows:

1. There are 17 Environment Protection Officers (EPOs) in the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), which sits within Access Canberra, who are involved in regulating activities that cause or have the potential to cause environmental harm as part of their functions under the Environment Protection Act 1997. This includes responding to complaints received from the public concerning woodsmoke pollution as well as to multiple other environment protection matters such as planning, assessment, licensing, education, monitoring, and compliance activities.

The allocation of all EPOs to multiple environment protection priorities is the most effective use of resources and it would be an unreasonable diversion of resources to try and determine the equivalent FTE time spent on the regulation of a particular activity, such as response to woodsmoke complaints.

2. Due to changes in Access Canberra complaint monitoring systems and a move to a tiered system of complaint classification on 1 July 2019, the historic information regarding woodsmoke cannot be identified down to the level of detail requested prior to FY 2019-20.

The following complaints were received regarding woodsmoke in the past three financial years:

2019-20 – 35 complaints

2020-21 – 25 complaints

2021-22 – 93 complaints

3. Details of visits by EPOs, letters or warning notices sent to offending households regarding woodsmoke complaints cannot be easily sourced without significant manual effort and this would require a diversion of resources away from their core environmental protection functions.

Nonetheless, I can provide the following information:

a. The total Air Pollution complaints (which includes woodsmoke, dust & odour and smoke complaints not relating to in-house woodfires) received for the financial year 2021-22 is 445;

b. The total education and advisory letters sent related to Air Pollution for the financial year 2021-22 is 306;

c. The total number of complaints received about woodsmoke in the financial year 2021-22 is 93;

i. It is standard practice to send education and advisory letters to relevant households and it can be assumed that letters were sent in each of these instances, where a relevant household was identified.

ii. The work required to accurately identify which letters about air pollution were specifically about “woodsmoke” would involve examining each letter and

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