Hunter Environment Advisory Group
This group includes representatives from community, local industry and councils. It will engage with the EPA on existing, new or emerging environmental matters in the Hunter region.
The scope of the Hunter Environment Advisory Group (HEAG) is to enable local communities in the Hunter region to engage with their industrial neighbours, the EPA and the Minister for the Environment.
In particular, the HEAG will have the opportunity to help inform the EPA’s approach on matters specifically related to:
- local air quality and the operation of local air quality networks
- environmental matters in the Newcastle and Hunter region
- communications and engagement with the community.
The HEAG is not a decision making or approval body.
The group is to be called the Hunter Environment Advisory Group and will cover the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Port Stephens, Maitland, Cessnock, Singleton, Muswellbrook and Upper Hunter local government areas.
The Advisory Group is to be comprised of the following members, each of whom is to be appointed by the Chief Executive Officer of the EPA or his/her delegate:
- Executive Director Operations or delegate will chair the group
- three representatives from local government
- two representatives from local industries
- four representatives from the local community
- one person who represents environmental interests and has genuine networks with the community.
- one representative from DPE Climate and Atmospheric Science
The Advisory Group is to have access to independent technical expertise as required.
The 4 local community members will ideally include a young person representative and Aboriginal representative.
Each person appointed as a member of the Advisory Group is to be a person who, in the opinion of the EPA, demonstrates a strong connection with the interest group they seek to represent, the skills to represent their group, taking into consideration the views of other groups, and a commitment to the establishment of the network. Group members will also be selected to ensure that the group represents a cross-section of community interests.
If the EPA declines to appoint a person nominated as a member of the Advisory Group by a person or body referred to above, the EPA may invite the person or body to nominate another person as a member of the Advisory Group.
The membership of the Advisory Group may be reviewed to ensure the group comprises the best mix of capabilities and experience.
The EPA will provide secretariat and administrative resources for the Advisory Group.
The Advisory Group has the following functions:
- to engage with the EPA on existing, new, or emerging matters of environmental concern in the Hunter region.
- to identify and review any community concerns or complaints regarding any environmental and amenity issues associated with local industrial activities.
- to provide feedback to the EPA on the effectiveness of measures and actions required to monitor, mitigate, or reduce environmental impacts from major industries in the Hunter region.
- to contribute to community education for environmental issues such as air quality, water quality, contaminated land and remediation.
- to facilitate ongoing dialogue between industry and the community to build trust and confidence in the environmental performance of industry.
- to contribute to the management and implementation of environmental monitoring systems in the Hunter region, including, but not limited to, the Upper Hunter Air Quality Monitoring Network and the Lower Hunter Air Quality Monitoring Network.
- to inform the community and industry of any actions undertaken by the EPA in response to matters raised.
- to provide feedback to the EPA on the mechanisms by which the community wishes to be notified and kept informed in the event of an environmental incident.
- to consider any matter referred by the Minister, or any other relevant matter.
Please refer to Schedule 1 for the Constitution of the Advisory Group.
1. Terms of Office Members
A member of the Advisory Group may hold office for a period of two years. Advisory Group members whose membership have expired, and continue to meet the assessment criteria, are eligible for reappointment.
- Advisory Group members may request a person to be the deputy of that member. The EPA may agree to such a request.
- In the absence of a member, the member’s deputy may, if available, act in the place of a member.
- While acting in the place of a member, a person has all the functions of the member and is taken to be a member.
- For the purposes of this clause, a vacancy in the office of a member is taken to be an absence of the member.
3. Vacancy in office of members
- The office of a member becomes vacant if the member:
- is medically unfit,
- completes a term of office and is not reappointed,
- resigns to the office in writing addressed to the EPA,
- is removed from office by the EPA under this schedule and clause,
- is absent from four consecutive meetings of the Advisory Group of which reasonable notice has been given to the member personally or by post, except where advice requesting an absence has been accepted by the EPA,
- becomes bankrupt, applies to take the benefit of any law for the relief of bankrupt or insolvent debtors, compounds with his or her creditors or makes an assignment of his or her remuneration for their benefit, or
- is convicted in NSW of an offence that is punishable by imprisonment for 12 months or more, or is convicted elsewhere than in NSW of an offence that, if committed in NSW, would be an offence so punishable.
- The EPA may, at any time, remove a member from the Advisory Group.
4. Filling a group position
If a position on the Advisory Group becomes vacant, the EPA will issue an expression of interest for nominations to fill the vacancy. Where no nomination is received the Advisory Group may continue until such time that a suitable person nominates and is appointed.
The EPA Executive Director Operations or delegate will chair the Advisory Group.
6. Disclosure of pecuniary interests
The Advisory Group is a non-statutory committee formed to engage with the EPA and provide feedback to the Minister on matters relating to environmental issues in the Hunter Region. The disclosure of pecuniary interests for the Advisory Group is an EPA requirement.
- If a member of the Advisory Group has a direct or indirect pecuniary interest in a matter being considered or about to be considered at a meeting of the Advisory Group, and this interest appears to raise a conflict with the proper performance of the member’s duties in relation to the consideration of the matter, the member must, as soon as possible after the relevant facts have come to the member’s knowledge, disclose the nature of the interest at a meeting of the Advisory Group.
- A disclosure by a member at a meeting of the Advisory Group that the member:
- is a member, or is in the employment of a specified company or other body, or
- is a partner, or is in the employment of a specified person, or
- has some other specified interest relating to a specified company or other body or to a specified person,
- is sufficient disclosure of the nature of the interest in any matter relating to that company, other body or person which may arise after the date of the disclosure and is required to be disclosed under the Terms of Reference.
- Particulars of any disclosure made under this clause must be recorded by the Advisory Group in the minutes of the meeting concerned.
- A member of the Advisory Group is not disqualified from taking part in any deliberation of the matter, or in a decision with respect to the matter, because of the member’s pecuniary interest.
- A contravention of this clause does not invalidate any advice of the Advisory Group.
7. Procedures of the Advisory Group
Subject to this Schedule, the procedures of the Advisory Group are to be drafted by the EPA and supported by the Advisory Group.
The quorum requirement for a meeting of the Advisory Group is that a majority of its members are present for the duration of the meeting.
9. Presiding member
The Chairperson is to preside at a meeting of the Advisory Group.
The presiding member has a deliberative vote and, in the event of an equality of votes, has a second or casting vote.
A discussion supported by a majority of the votes cast at a meeting at which a quorum is present is a decision of the Advisory Group.
The Advisory Group is required to keep minutes of proceedings at its meetings. EPA acts as secretariat to the Advisory Group to record minutes, actions and outcomes.
12. Meeting frequency
As a minimum, the Advisory Group is expected to meet twice a year.
Members are not eligible for sitting fees and will be required to organise their own travel arrangements if they wish to attend meetings in person. Travel costs will not be reimbursed by the EPA.
The HEAG Terms of Reference will be reviewed after the initial two years.