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Environment
AGL Energy Limited 84
Environmental Risk
Biodiversity and cultural heritage
AGL operates and develops energy generation and
upstream gas assets on land that, in many cases, has
value for reasons of biodiversity and cultural heritage,
in addition to its commercial value. AGL is committed to
developing and operating its assets in an environmentally
and socially responsible manner.
Approach
AGL’s Health, Safety and Environment Management System
outlines the requirements for ensuring that all potential impacts on
biodiversity and cultural heritage resulting from AGL’s activities are
identified, assessed and as far as is reasonably practicable, managed
and minimised, prior to activity being undertaken. All large AGL
sites and projects also maintain risk registers which, where relevant,
detail site specific risks and risk management measures related to
biodiversity and cultural heritage.
Most of AGL’s development projects are considered under planning
legislation as State-significant major projects, and therefore
require comprehensive environmental impact assessments
including flora and fauna studies and cultural heritage assessments.
Following development approval, projects are undertaken strictly
in accordance with approved environmental management plans.
Compliance with the requirements of AGL’s HSE system at
operational and development sites is audited on a regular basis.
Native flora and fauna is present in the vicinity of most of AGL’s
development projects, and AGL aims to protect biodiversity by
limiting the footprint of its activities to already disturbed areas.
For example, at coal seam gas exploration projects, AGL locates its
drill sites and campsites on already disturbed ground where possible.
Where habitats are affected, AGL takes steps to restore and protect
them. In some cases, AGL establishes “offset” habitats which are
managed for conservation purposes, in accordance with regulatory
requirements. AGL also regularly sponsors initiatives that support
the conservation of both biodiversity and cultural heritage.
Performance
In FY2012, AGL developed a biodiversity register, which documents
the biodiversity values of around 40 operational and development
sites. The biodiversity register was compiled using existing sources
of information (for example, flora and fauna surveys) and has
identified information gaps that exist in relation to older assets
which are now owned by AGL. A work plan will now be developed
to gather additional information for assets located in areas of high
biodiversity value.
Some of AGL’s operations are located in regions of low biodiversity
value, while others are located in close proximity to protected
areas. AGL sites located in or adjacent to protected areas include
Torrens Island Power Station, Kiewa Hydro Scheme, Werribee biogas
generation facility, Gloucester and Hunter coal seam gas projects
and the Newcastle Gas Storage Facility. The biodiversity register
will assist in refining our understanding of our biodiversity risks,
and ensure actions are targeted to our highest priority operations.
The biodiversity register also documents the management
strategies and biodiversity offset habitats AGL has implemented
to compensate for habitat loss at a number of locations, such as
the offsets currently being established as part of the Newcastle
Gas Storage Facility and Gloucester Gas Project. These offsets
support a variety of vegetation communities, such as Spotted Gum
– Ironbark woodland, and valuable habitats for ten threatened fauna
species listed under the
Threatened Species Conservation Act
1995
(NSW) and
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation
Act
1999 (Cwth).
In FY2012, AGL undertook a number of voluntary activities to
support the conservation of biodiversity and cultural heritage. For
example, we presented to indigenous groups, such as the Georgina
Diamantina Coopers Aboriginal Group, on how AGL undertakes
cultural heritage monitoring, and we sponsored a community
initiative to eradicate the Acacia Nilotica weed in Western
Queensland. We also sponsored presentations by ecologists to
tertiary students on the environmental management strategies
being implemented at our wind farms. A number of AGL employees
also took paid workdays to do volunteer work with conservation
groups such as Landcare, Hunter Botanic Gardens and Friends
of Westgate Park.
AGL Biomass Policy
In recognition of the effect that electricity generation can have on
biodiversity, AGL has published a Biomass Policy which states that
AGL will not source fuel for power generation from native forest
or from crops located in areas cleared of native forest after 1990.
The policy is available at agl.com.au/BiomassPolicy.