Warren Jones 1980 – October 2010
EPA Board Member
“Warren Jones worked in the Tasmanian environment agency since 1980. He also worked as a teacher at both secondary and tertiary levels and in the private sector. During his time in the environment agency, Mr Jones occupied many positions ranging from regulatory roles through to policy development. He was the General Manager of the Environment Division since 1998 and also held the statutory position of Director of the Environment Protection Authority established under the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act.
Mr Jones holds a Bachelor of Science Degree with Honours and a Masters Degree in Environmental Studies.
He sat on a number of decision-making and advisory bodies including the Assessment Committee for Dam Construction, the Marine Farming Planning Review Panel and the Forest Practices Advisory Council.”
Minister Recognises Environmental Contribution Of EPA Director, Above
The Minister for Environment, Parks and Heritage, David O’Byrne, today paid tribute to the long serving Director of the State’s Environment Protection Authority, Warren Jones, who retired in the 2nd week of October 2010
Mr O’Byrne said Mr Jones has played a major role in enhancing and protecting the Tasmanian environment, including a key role in establishing the independent environmental regulator.
“Over 30 years in the various forms the environmental regulator’s office has taken, Warren has worked in a number of roles to assist in developing rigorous and scientific environmental standards,” Mr O’Byrne said.
“Over that time, Warren’s professionalism, personal integrity, and scientific knowledge have been highly regarded across industry, the community and all sides of politics.
“It was that reputation he has carved out in his professional life that saw him identified as the best candidate to help establish the Environment Protection Authority as an independent agency in recent years.”
Mr O’Byrne said Mr Jones would be missed by colleagues across government.
“The immediate reaction from all manner of employees and managers has been one of disappointment,” Mr O’Byrne said.
“His depth of knowledge of his field and the regard he is held in will be difficult to replace along with his ability to stay abreast of the latest standards and requirements in a continually evolving area.”
Forest Practices Authority
The following persons have been appointed as members of the Forest Practices Advisory Council by the Minister in accordance with s.37A of the Forest Practices Act –
• a person with knowledge of the State’s resource management and planning system, nominated by the Secretary of the responsible Department in relation to the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 - WARREN JONES
Allow me to expand on these…
I first got to know Warren back in 2008 and it was not under the best of circumstances. At the time I was suffering very serious health affects from forestry planned burn smoke. Our air quality was shocking and I distinctly remember Warren becoming nervous and not wanting to talk on the telephone about it. He cut the call short. Breath was too valuable anyway for me to be talking.
This account is recorded at: http://www.cleanairtas.com/outwards/warrenJonesEPA13.10.08.doc
On the 14th October 2008 Warren, to his credit, wrote back to me saying he had (now) read my submission to the FPA and that, “Outside the fire permit period the general offence provisions of EMPCA do apply and can be enforced by the EPA or a Council officer.”
On the 11th November 2008 I was allowed 10 minutes in Launceston to ‘meet the EPA Board’. I asked the Board members if they were aware of my health status as a result of the smoke.
Warren looked at me across the table and said ‘no.’ That simply was incorrect.
I researched, wrote letters, made ‘phone calls, and put in lengthy submissions. I spoke to other people who were having the same problems with their health because of the smoke and I believe the common denominator in all this was the Environment Protection Authority under Warren’s command as EPA Director.
Warren I believe was supportive of seeking funding for the BLANKET air monitoring system, which incidentally, is a system that does not comply with Australian Ambient Air Monitoring Standards.
The main aim of this system is to monitor smoke from planned burning and the main aim of the Coordinated Smoke Management Strategy trials run by the Forest Practices Authority is to allow the maximum amount of particulates to be released into each of the many made-up airsheds. The EPA has ‘gone along with’ the smoke trials despite how the EMPCA reads. Even according to the EPA there are no exemptions under EMPCA, except by TFS during a fire permit period.
Further, Warren was having an input into our Australian Air Quality NEPM standards by being a National Environment Protection Council (NEPC) committee member. Warren was also a Forest Practices advisory council member. Maybe I was wrong but I felt a picture was starting to form.
Under a Memorandum of Understanding between the EPA and the FPA (Warren was a signatory) our EPA who claims to administer the primary environmental Act, the EMPCA in this state, then signed away its authority to investigate our forestry smoke complaints.
Warren, or the EPA Board, has advised me:
• That general offence provisions do apply and can be enforced by the EPA, [but never have been in relation to poor air quality].
• The Environment Management and Pollution Control Act is the principal Tasmanian law relating to air quality. The Act establishes the EPA as comprising the EPA Board and the EPA Director. This was Warren Jones.
• Many planned burns will be lit when the wind direction can be said to be broadly to a populated area whether this be to a small town, hamlet, or city at some distance, ranging from several kilometres away to hundreds of kilometres at the other end of the island.
This is despite the fundamental basis of the Environment Management and Pollution Control Act (EMPCA) being the prevention, reduction and remediation of environmental harm.
The EMPCA states:
“any adverse effect on the environment (of whatever degree or duration) and includes an environmental nuisance” (the latter is defined as ‘the emission of a pollutant that unreasonably interferes with, or is likely to interfere with, a person’s enjoyment of the environment’)” And,
The Environment Protection Policy (Air Quality) 2004 which provides a framework for the management and regulation of both point and diffuse sources of emissions to air for pollutants with the potential to cause environmental harm.
The environmental values to be protected under the Air Quality Policy are:
• The life, health and well-being of humans,
• The life, health and well-being of other forms of life,
• Visual amenity.
• The EPA under Warren did not instigate successful proceedings against any burner despite our deliberate very poor air quality at times, and
• The EPA now refuses to allocate resources to investigate any of my smoke complaints.
This is despite what we heard previously that Warren ‘worked in a number of roles to assist in developing rigorous and scientific environmental standards’…standards that he was, I believe, never prepared to uphold. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has advised Warren on two of our most serious smoke events there was no chance of a prosecution succeeding
So much for the rigorous environmental standards and policy development.
Only could our state Minister for Environment (David O’Byrne MP who has been in office for just a few short months) claim Warren ‘played a major role in enhancing and protecting the Tasmanian environment’. When it comes to something as important as air pollution, we have been smoked out for years by pernicious forestry smoke.
Warren played ‘a key role in establishing the independent environmental regulator’ and yet this body (EPA) is toothless. It has no regulatory control over planned burns conducted by the major burners, e.g., Forestry Tasmania, private forest companies, Tasmania Fire Service, or Parks and Wildlife.
Let me digress a little…
I was at Pontville army range one evening many years ago. The nature of the exercise was to observe troops on patrol moving under the cover of half-light and a smoke screen. The odd parachute flare would be deployed to light up the night.
The troops on patrol were deployed across the valley from where the observers and mortars were firing (I was an observer). Kaboom, the mortars started firing their smoke bombs and soon a thick blanket of smoke appeared in a line across the other side of the gulley. We had observed troop movement in the area just preceding the firing and now there was nothing to be seen.
Then a flare went up, then another after a short time. Each mortar flares lit the area for about two minutes by memory.
The troops on patrol knew the drill. When they heard a flare go up they took cover before it illuminated. If they were caught out in the open they stood still and were to close one eye to protect their night vision. When the flare had burnt out they were to continue their mission.
The troops on patrol soon joined us without being spotted. They had escaped under the cover of that smoke screen.
Warren you knew about the smoke that forestry has been firing at us for years. You retired as Director of the EPA literally under that cloud of smoke. Every time an incendiary flare was dropped from a helicopter you seemed to me to stand still, and when it extinguished it was allowed to continue.
Warren Jones would you protect the environment from the deliberate affects of pernicious planned burn smoke if you had your time again?