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ERMA Blows Budget Another $8 Million

November 22nd, 2001

ERMA Blows Budget Another $8 Million; Hikes Charges

The Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) has just advised industry that it requires another $8 million from Government or more fees from industry to fulfil its legal obligations.

The $8 million is an additional cost to manage categories of substances that were not considered a risk before about 1996 when there were no charges to administer.

The cost blowout is on top of the extra $20 million allocated to the Authority earlier this year, and in spite of applications to ERMA costing industry twice as much as its earlier indications.

"ERMA told its consultative committee it would have to charge industry the extra $8 million if it could not get it from Government to manage its Notification of Transferred Substances (NOTS) programme,' said Garth Wylie, the Employers & Manufacturers Association representative on the committee.

"The programme is to manage the transfer of low risk substances introduced in 1996 under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO) and which came into effect on July 2nd this year.

"ERMA set its budget for the NOTS programme on the basis that 7000 low risk substances would have to be transferred; 215,000 such substances have since been notified for transfer.

"The Authority said it wouldn't start on the low risk NOTS substances until it had fully operational procedures for substances considered a higher risk, which are those that used to come under the Dangerous Goods or Toxic Substances Acts.

"With this time approaching, business is alarmed ERMA could ask industry to pay for the NOTS programme. Repeated assurances have previously been made that this cost would be borne by Government.

"In addition, the Authority is now suggesting it may retrospectively decline a NOTS application if sufficient information is not provided on the extent of a substance's toxicity, flammability, eco toxicity or core chemical components.

"However the form on which NOTS applications were originally made never asked for these details, nor was there any space allowed on it to provide them.

"The proposal looks like a ruse to extract more fees from business for transferring the substances because, if they are not transferred within five years from July 2nd, they become illegal.

"Since July 2nd, ERMA has received only two applications for the lowest risk type of hazardous substances. Both materials were approved, one at $950 and the other at $1250, which was double the amount that ERMA indicated the fees would be.

"An application for a third substance was withdrawn when the applicant learned the cost would likely run to several thousand dollars."

Ends


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