State and territory governments are primarily responsible for land use, water, pollution control and air quality matters. However, if you are involved in a project or development proposal that could impact Australia’s environment, you may need state, territory or local government, as well as Australian Government approval before you proceed.
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.
This means that landowners, developers, companies, individuals and governments must seek Australian Government approval in addition to state, territory or local government approvals if their plans might impact on matters of national significance.
Gaining approval for your project
You can use the Protected Matters Search Tool to help understand if your proposed site is home to, or located near, any matters of national environmental significance are likely on, or near, your proposed site.
If there are matters of national significance related to your site, it’s best to contact the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment as early as possible to understand the process and investigate ways that improved environmental outcomes can be built into your project from the start.
One of the most important ways that you can help protect Australia’s animals, plants, habitats and heritage places is by selecting a site that aims to avoid or minimise impacts. In your early planning stages the department can help you determine the extent to which a site will be of interest to us.
Contacting the department and incorporating Australian Government environmental assessment into your project planning early can also help avoid duplication and delays and potentially lower your costs.
Before referring your project for assessment, consider organising a pre-referral meeting with the department to understand more about the assessment process and what information we will need to complete your assessment.
To refer your project or activity for assessment under the EPBC Act complete the referral of proposed action form on Online services.