Environmental Risk

The University of Queensland (UQ) has a proactive approach to environmental management to meet legal and ethical obligations and comply with environmental legislation.

UQ's Environmental Management System is an effective tool for managing existing and emerging environmenal risks, and assessing regulatory compliance and performance. 

Risk Assessment and Management

 A risk assessment should be conducted before the commencement of any activity, guided by the Enterprise Risk Management Framework.

Students and staff have the responsibility to ensure that environmental risks are identified and the appropriate action is taken to:

  • Ensure the risk is captured in UQ’s environmental risk management system. To do this, notify the Sustainability Office of the activity and risk using the online Environmental Aspects and Impacts Identification Form
  • Develop work practices that minimise the risk of environmental harm.

Environmental Licences

 Certain activities cannot commence until the appropriate approvals, permits or permissions, commonly referred to as ’licences’ have been granted. These licences may be managed centrally by P&F Sustainability on behalf of the University or by Organisational Units depending on the nature and scope of the activity. Environmental licences are generally required for specific, high-risk environmental activities.

It is important to understand which activities require a licence, which government agency administers it and who is responsible for it, however this may not always be clear. If you are uncertain as to whether your activity requires a licence, please contact the Sustainability Office for assistance via email sustainability@uq.edu.au or phone 336 51587.

Activities controlled centrally by P&F

 P&F Sustainability Office centrally manage activities fundamental to UQ's operations as well as activities managed under site licences of responsible Organisational Units. This includes, as an example, the Gatton Campus Piggery and Sewage Treatment Plant ERA.

Procedures have been developed for these activities and incorporated into the EMS. Staff and students must follow all EMS procedures to ensure compliance with legislative requirements.

Activities controlled by Organisational Units

Activities that are the sole responsibility of an Organisational Unit and are limited to a single campus or site are the responsibility of the Organisational Unit.  Examples include:

  • Gatton Campus, Queensland Animal Science Precinct, feedlots (School of Agriculture and Food Sciences), and
  • Moreton Bay Research Station, trade waste (School of Biological Sciences).

Organisational units that are responsible for these activities must develop their own processes and procedures to meet conditions of their licences.

 Further assistance is available

If you are unsure if any of your Organisational Unit’s activities, require a licence or amendment of an existing licence, or are already covered by a central licence, please contact the Sustainability Office for assistance via email sustainability@uq.edu.au or phone 336 51587.

The following are provided as examples of specific activities that may require new or amended licences:

  • discharging chemicals, oils or grease into the sewer (trade waste),
  • agricultural activities (i.e. feedlotting and poultry),
  • sewer mining,
  • treating wastes or by-products,
  • large volume town water consumption, and
  • drawing water from or damming natural or overland water flows.

Note that some activities have no lower limit, therefor small-scale research projects may require a licence. There may be costs associated with obtaining and maintaining a licence, therefore these costs should be accounted for within any research or project funding proposals.


  • Contact PF Assist on 336 52222, Security on 336 51234 (general/non-urgent matters) or 336 53333 (emergencies) and/or the Program Manager Environment and Sustainability (PMES) on 336 51587
  • Follow all instructions from PF Assist/Security/PMES
  • Try to minimise harm if safe to do so
  • After the incident, contact the PMES to complete the incident investigation process via email h.malawkin@uq.edu.au or phone 336 51587
  • Note: Some Organisational Units may appoint a specific person that staff and students can report environmental incidents to. This person should then contact PF Assist, Security and/or the PMES as described above

Breaches of the Environmental Protection Act 1994 can incur heavy penalties:

Serious environmental harm

  • up to 6250 penalty units or five years imprisonment

Material environmental harm

  • up to 4500 penalty units or two years imprisonment

Environmental nuisance

  • up to 1665 penalty units

The penalty unit value in Queensland is $133.45 (current from 1 July 2020).