Sunshine Coast Environmental Management System (EMS) Audit
Sunshine Coast Council, at the heart of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, was first formed in 1890. The council provides major services by around 1000 staff to a population base of more than 115,000 in an area of 1157 square kilometres. With a budget in excess of $200 million, the council is one of the fastest growing areas in Australia. The council is committed to protecting its hinterland, mountain ranges and beach environments through effective planning and management to achieve:
- A natural environment protected and preserved with healthy waterways, clean beaches and reduced pollution and litter.
- Increased community commitment to environmental protection and management and the preservation of biodiversity within the Shire.
- Best practice environmental management within Council which enhances the lifestyle of the community.
This ambitious vision demands strong action for environmental protection and enhancement and therefore the council has a range of different programmes working towards the primary goal of Ecologically Sustainable Development.
Lloyd Consulting facilitated the development and implementation of the Maroochy Shire Council (MSC) Environmental Management System (EMS) consistent with the International Standard ISO 14001. The first stage of the program comprised a scoping study to determine the “high-risk” areas of MSC, identify potential links to existing systems within MSC, investigate the current regulatory position in terms of environmental licences and approvals, and identify options for the integration of the EMS into MSC. As part of this first stage, Lloyd Consulting conducted a series of audits of sites and activities that potentially posed the highest risk of causing environmental harm, (i.e. sewage treatment plants, works depots, the quarry, the airport, landfills and asset construction works).
Stage 2 comprised a trial implementation of the EMS based around the identified “high-risk” areas identified in Stage 1. The major outcome of this second stage was the development of the web-based EMS intranet site that contained all EMS policies, procedures, forms and other documentation and provided links to other MSC intranet sites and external websites, such as state legislation. A group of environmental representatives from each of the identified areas was formed to serve as a forum to progress the implementation of the EMS and to review and approve the EMS policies, procedures, forms and other documents. This forum of environmental coordinators has been highly successful in identifying gaps in existing systems as well as bringing together common issues from various sections within Council into working groups, e.g. quality assurance.
Implementation of MSC’s EMS is now underway with all areas of Council using the foundation built around the trial implementation in earlier stages. An environmental coordinators group has been formed to progress the identification of aspects and impacts, setting of objectives, and targets and development of environmental management programs through the policy development, regulatory services, and management areas of Council. It has been identified that these areas can have potential indirect impacts on the environment: for example, a purchasing policy without environmental considerations and the absence of a triple bottom line reporting system. An in-depth training program is also underway to raise the general environmental awareness of Council staff.