Australia’s national environmental law is called the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). The EPBC Act makes sure that ‘nationally significant’ animals, plants, habitats and places are identified, and any potential negative impacts on them are carefully considered before changes in land use or new developments are approved.
The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment is responsible for managing the environmental assessment and approval process under the EPBC Act.
- We apply a common set of processes for each unique project we are asked to assess using the EPBC Act to guide us.
- It’s important to recognise that our responsibilities are directly linked to the EPBC Act. The EPBC Act is Australia’s primary environmental legislation that determines how we protect the environment. The role of the department is not to determine whether a development is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for Australia, and the EPBC Act is not designed to stop development.
- Where appropriate, approvals may include conditions that require developers to take certain action to minimise harm to the environment.
- Many proposed developments and actions are also subject to state, territory or local government laws.
How you can help us
If you are planning to submit an environment assessment application you should:
- be well informed when selecting your site – this is one of the most important ways you can help protect Australia’s animals, plants, habitats and heritage places. If you are choosing between potential sites or have some flexibility regarding your chosen site, speaking with us early can help you avoid or minimise environmental impacts and streamline the assessment process. This can also help reduce your costs
- consider how your project can avoid environmental impacts from the outset and if impacts are unavoidable, how you can minimise the impacts. Engaging with the department early, by organising a pre-referral meeting, may help you minimise duplication, delays and costs
- use the Protected Matters Search Tool can also help you determine whether your project and proposed site will need to undergo an environmental assessment under the EPBC Act.
- complete the referral of proposed action form at: Online Services to refer your project or activity for assessment under the EPBC Act.
While every project that we are asked to assess under the EPBC Act is different, we use a set of common processes and are committed to delivering consistent, fair and transparent processes.