If a court finds that you breached the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) or its regulations, you could face a penalty that includes imprisonment. You may also need to repair the damage or compensate those affected. Learn more about recent breaches of the EPBC Act.
Penalties to enforce the Act
If a court finds that a person or entity breached the EPBC Act or its regulations, they may face civil or criminal penalties. This includes fines and potential jail time.
Fines are measured in penalty units. The value of one penalty unit is set in the Crimes Act 1914. For offences committed on or after 1 July 2020, a penalty unit is $222. This amount increases every 3 years so we expect it to change on 1 July 2023.
At the current rate for a penalty unit, the maximum penalty for breaching the EPBC Act is:
- a civil penalty of up to 5,000 penalty units for an individual or up to 50,000 for a body corporate
- a criminal penalty of up to 7 years’ imprisonment and/or 420 penalty units.
The penalty is different depending on whether your:
- actions had an impact on a matter of national environmental significance
- actions had an impact on Commonwealth land (without first having an approval)
- actions, or failure to act, meant you went against a condition of approval
- approval or permit included false information, leading to environmental damage.
Repairing or preventing damage
Aside from penalties, there are other ways the EPBC Act is enforced. These include:
- injunctions: to stop damaging activities
- directed environmental audits: to assess impacts that are different or larger than what was approved
- remediation of damage: to the protected matter or third parties
- enforceable undertakings: to pay the Commonwealth or another party to protect or conserve a protected matter.
They may also include publicising breaches of the EPBC Act.
Read more about how we enforce the EPBC Act.
We publish the outcomes of breaches of the EPBC Act. You'll find judgments from 2016 and earlier on the Trove Website Archive, maintained by the National Library of Australia.
On the 20 January 2022, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment accepted an Enforceable Undertaking from three Western Australian (WA) companies, for impacts to habitat for listed threatened species.
The offer followed the removal of 10.18 hectares of Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo (endangered), Baudin’s Black Cockatoo (vulnerable) and Forest Red-tailed Black Cockatoo (vulnerable) habitat in Baldivis, WA, without approval, which was in contravention of s 18(3) and (4) of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
The Enforceable Undertaking placed an obligation on companies, Novalee Nominees Pty Ltd, Estates 77 Pty Ltd and Spatial Property Group Pty Ltd, for $250,000 to be provided to the Western Australian Museum Boola Bardip, towards research to support the protected Black Cockatoos.
On the 15 December 2021 the Department of Agriculture Water and the Environment accepted an enforceable undertaking from a Queensland company under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 for impacts to native vegetation comprising of habitat for matters of national environmental significance. The offer provides for the provision of over $1.5m for the purpose of activities directed towards the protection and conservation of protected matters that have been impacted.
|10/12/2021||On 10 December 2021, the Remediation Determination issued to Jam Land Pty Limited on 28 April 2020 was affirmed by the then Delegate to the Minister for the Environment.|
On 30 March 2021 the Delegate to the Minister signed a Remediation Determination requiring a land owner to repair the damage caused by earthworks and drainage by reversing the alterations to the landform. The earthworks and drainage impacted on 9 hectares of the Seasonal Herbaceous Wetlands (Freshwater) of the Temperate Lower Plains near Streatham Victoria, in contravention of Part 3 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The remediation determination provides a balanced compliance response and a positive environmental outcome for the protection of the wetlands which are listed as a threatened ecological community and protected under the Act.
|09/06/2020||On 9 June 2020 the Delegate to the Minister signed a Remediation Determination requiring a land owner to take actions on their King Island property in Tasmania to mitigate the impacts which resulted from earthworks associated with land clearing. The earthworks impacted on the adjacent Lavinia Ramsar site on King Island Tasmania, in contravention of Part 3 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The remediation determination provides a balanced compliance response and a positive environmental outcome for the protection of threatened species within the Ramsar site.|
|26/05/2020||Two (2) infringement notices were issued to a Victorian-based company in relation to contraventions under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 and the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Regulations 1995. One (1) infringement notice to the value of $12,600 was issued for importing a bulk hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) without a controlled substances licence, in contravention of section 13(1) of the Act. One (1) infringement notice to the value of $420 was issued for using non-refillable cylinders for the storage of HCFC, in contravention of the company’s refrigerant trading authorisation, which is an offence under Regulation 142(1). Both infringement notices were subsequently paid.|
|18/05/2020||On 18 May 2020, Jam Land Pty Limited applied to the Minister for a reconsideration of the Remediation Determination issued to Jam Land Pty Limited on 28 April 2020.|
|28/04/2020||On 28 April 2020 the Delegate to the Minister signed a Remediation Determination requiring Jam Land Pty Limited to take actions on their Monaro property in NSW to mitigate the impacts which resulted from the application of herbicide to a critically endangered ecological community in late 2016. The remediation determination provides a balanced compliance response and a positive environmental outcome for the protection of threatened grasslands.|
|23/12/2019||G P Cameron and L J Cameron were issued a Directed variation for contravening Conditions 1 and 2, and replace attachment map of EPBC 2016/7838|
|29/11/2019||The Federal Court made a declaration that a Victorian landholder had contravened section 18(3) of the EPBC Act for works taken on his properties that impacted habitat for the South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoo. The landholder was also ordered the landholder to implement a Remediation Plan across the property to mitigate the impacts.|
|18/11/2019||Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000 The Department of the Environment and Energy entered into an Enforceable Undertaking with BP Australia Pty Ltd for the supply of non-compliant unleaded petrol from it Kwinana refinery in West Australia in 2017. The Enforceable Undertaking placed an obligation on BP Australia Pty Ltd to implement significant fuel quality testing processes throughout it’s supply chain at an estimated cost of approximately $800,000.|
|14/11/2019||A man was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, with a non parole period of 9 months for attempting to smuggle through the post native wildlife out of Australia.|
|18/10/2019||A man was sentenced to three years imprisonment, to be served in the community by way of an Intensive Correction Order, to be of good behaviour and undertake 700 hours of community service. He was found guilty of importing and exporting live regulated specimens. The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions appealed the sentence on the grounds that the sentence imposed was manifestly inadequate. On 18 October 2019 the Court of Criminal Appeal imposed a new aggregate sentence of full-time imprisonment for 4 years with a non-parole period of 2 years and 6 months|
|10/10/2019||SIMTA Transport was Directed to undertake a Directed audit and were found to have breached conditions 9 and 14 of EPBC/6229|
|10/10/2019||Big Island Mining Pty Ltd was issued a Directed Variation for contravening Condition 1(c ) of EPBC 2015/7539|
|30/09/2019||The Department of the Environment and Energy accepted an enforceable undertaking from a fuel supplier for supplying diesel across multiple sites in the greater western Sydney area that did not comply with the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000. The Enforceable Undertaking aimed to improve compliance with the fuel supplier’s obligations under the Act by having the fuel supplier conduct sampling activities across its national supply chain over a 12 month period, reporting the results to the Department. In addition, the Enforceable Undertaking placed an obligation for the fuel supplier to conduct audits and provide education to contracted fuel carriers to minimise any potential contamination which may affect fuel quality.|
|06/09/2019||Two infringement notices, each to the value of $420, were issued under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 to a Victorian based automotive mechanic for possessing bulk synthetic greenhouse gas without holding a relevant permit. The gas was stored in disposable cylinders in contravention of a condition on the mechanic’s refrigerant handling licence. These are offences under regulation 112(2) and 136(1) of the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Regulations 1995. The infringement notices were subsequently paid.|
|01/05/2019||The Minister was granted an injunction in the Perth Registry of the Federal Court restrain the developers of a residential subdivision "Paramount Estate" in Baldivis WA from undertaking any further work within the referral footprint until such time as environmental assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 199 has been completed.|
|19/12/2018||An infringement notice to the value of $12,600 was issued under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 to NSW-based company for importing a diesel bus containing a synthetic greenhouse gas without an appropriate licence, in contravention of section 13(1) of the Act. The infringement notice was subsequently paid.|
|17/12/2018||The Minister used powers available to call-in the referral of a proposed residential development "Paramount Estate at Baldivis WA.|
|04/12/2018||An infringement notice to the value of $12,600 was issued under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 to a Victorian-based company for importing a pool heat pump containing a synthetic greenhouse gas without an appropriate licence, in contravention of section 13(1) of the Act. The infringement notice was subsequently paid.|
|07/11/2018||An infringement notice to the value of $2,520 was issued under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 to a NSW-based refrigeration mechanic for discharging a synthetic greenhouse gas during the installation of an air-conditioning system, in contravention of section 45B(1) of the Act. The infringement notice was subsequently paid.|
|31/08/2018||A 55-year-old man who smuggled native lizards in thermal coffee cups through the post has received a total of 23 months of imprisonment, suspended immediately on a condition imposed by the court for him to remain of good behaviour for the period of the sentence. He was found guilty of exporting and importing regulated live animals listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).|
|22/06/2018||A man was sentenced to 50 hours community service after being convicted of possessing and importing illegal animal specimens.|
|08/02/2018||In the Cairns District Court, a former Managing Director and consultant of the Australian Rainforest Foundation, pleaded guilty in relation to counts of General Dishonesty - Cause a Risk of a Loss to the Commonwealth. He was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment on each charge - to be served concurrently. However, the Judge imposed an immediate release order on the condition that the defendant be of good behaviour for a period of 12 months. A $2000 surety was also entered into.|
|08/02/2018||A former University of Canberra student was fined $5,500 and placed on a two year good behaviour bond after he pled guilty to 14 charges relating to possessing and importing illegal animal remains. The student now based in Queensland, was charged with possessing or importing specimens including: Asian wild cat skulls, bear skulls, a gibbon skull, owl skulls, monkey skulls, a water monitor skull, hornbill skulls, a flying fox skull, a taxidermized common buzzard, a hippopotamus tooth, a bear tooth and a claw of a medium-large cat.|
|19/01/2018||A New South Wales-based importer has been fined $12 600 by the Department of Environment and Energy for importing vehicles with air conditioning units containing a common refrigerant gas without an appropriate licence.|
|10/01/2018||A forty-nine-year old security contractor was fined $4,000 after pleading guilty to nine charges of possessing, and one charge of importing, illegal animal specimens listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).|
|03/11/2017||Coal and Allied entered into an enforceable undertaking to the value of $2.1 in reparation for impacts on the ecological community Central Hunter Valley Eucalypt Forest and Woodland at their Hunter Valley coal mine.|
|11/10/2017||NSW woman was given a two year good behaviour bond for breaking Australian environmental law, after being caught with wildlife specimens of several internationally-threatened species.|
|14/09/2017||Yara Pilbara Nitrates issued with Directed Variation to approval conditions 3 to 14 of EPBC 2008/4546.|
|10/08/2017||A commercial fisherman was convicted and fined $5,000 for taking an illegal action for a commercial purpose in a Commonwealth marine reserve, namely the Tasman Fracture.|
|29/07/2017||A man was convicted and fined $19,000 after pleading guilty to illegally importing species, possession offences and illegally importing regulated specimens.|
|15/06/2017||An infringement notice to the value of $12,600 was issued under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 to an importer for importing goods containing a synthetic greenhouse gas without an appropriate licence, in contravention of section 13(1) of the Act. The infringement notice was subsequently paid.|
|9/05/2017||NSW woman was given a fine of $1400 after pleading guilty to five counts of possession of illegally imported wildlife specimens.|
|20/02/2017||Mr Andrew Camilleri was convicted and entered into a good behaviour bond in the New South Wales Magistrates Court for an offence against section 303GN(2) of the EPBC Act. Mr Camilleri entered a guilty plea to possession following the discovery of a Mexican Red-Knee Tarantula at a residence in Western Sydney in September 2015.|
Get in touch
If you have any questions about infringement notices contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org