Reporting on the State of the Environment
With the introduction of the Integrated Planning and Reporting (IP&R) framework, the requirements for State of the Environment (SoE) reporting changed to make it part of the corporate planning and reporting process.
The IP&R Guidelines state an End of Term report is due on the last meeting of council prior to an ordinary election (every 4 years), reporting on the objectives established by the Community Strategic Plan. The report will evaluate progress in achieving those objectives during the term of the council. This information is then used to inform the development of the next Community Strategic Plan and the incoming councils’ Delivery Programs.
Also in the year of an ordinary election, the Annual Report is required to include additional information on the State of the Environment relating to the objectives for the environment established by the Community Strategic Plan. This can be addressed by appending the End of Term report to the Annual Report.
When it is not an election year, the state of the environment may be addressed as part of a quadruple bottom line annual report rather than developing a separate report as required under previous legislation.
Some councils choose to do more comprehensive environmental reporting than the basic requirement to report on the environmental objectives of the Community Strategic Plan. This may be because:
- operational decisions are based on the evaluation of environmental monitoring, therefore more detailed/robust information is required;
- it fosters regional cooperation (in the case of regional reporting);
- it provides opportunities for grant funding; and/or
- there is a community expectation of more comprehensive reporting.
For more information on councils' current reporting requirements please refer to the Circular (12/06) produced by the Office of Local Government.