The Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981 (Sea Dumping Act) regulates the loading and disposal at sea of dredged or excavated material in Australian waters.
Requirement for a permit
If you wish to dispose of capital and/or maintenance dredged or excavated material at sea, you will require a sea dumping permit from us, or the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (the Reef Authority) if the action is proposed within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP). If your action is proposed within the GBRMP, please refer to the Reef Authority’s dredging policy and submit any enquiries or applications through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Permits are required to ensure that the impacts of dredged material disposal have been adequately assessed and, if ocean disposal is permitted, that impacts to sensitive marine environments (e.g., coral reefs, fish nursery sites) are managed responsibly and effectively. Permit applications should evaluate waste disposal alternatives and waste minimisation procedures, site and impact assessments and management and monitoring programs.
Sediment sampling and analysis plan (SAP) and SAP implementation reports (pre-application)
Before submitting a permit application for dredging, loading and/or dumping, applicants are encouraged to provide a sediment sampling and analysis plan (SAP). Although there is no statutory requirement to submit a SAP, it provides the department and applicant with more certainty early in a dredging project that the proposed sediment sampling design is sound and that any sediment contaminants can be adequately managed.
A SAP that has been prepared for departmental review and agreement ensures the ensuing SAP implementation report (SAPIR) is based on the best possible methodology and consequently produces a higher level of confidence in the conclusions drawn by an applicant on the suitability of the material for ocean disposal.
Applications should address matters in the National assessment guidelines for dredging 2009, including consideration of land-based disposal instead of ocean disposal, history of the area to be dredged, details of contaminants, and rationale for the proposed sampling design and proposed disposal site.
A SAP may not be needed if sediment sampling has been carried out in the previous 5 years and the results are still valid (for example, if the material to be disposed of and the disposal site are the same as before and will remain so for the life of the permit). Any pre-application meetings or interactions with the applicant ideally include further discussion of this aspect.
Dredging may involve both clean and contaminated sediments. Sediments are unlikely to contain contaminants if they are dredged from areas remote from pollution sources. However, in ports and harbours adjacent to urban or industrial areas, sediments may contain high levels of contamination from chemicals, heavy metals or organic compounds. Contaminated sediments require special attention.
Using the SAP, the applicant can complete initial sampling and testing of sediment. The applicant should include the results of sediment sampling and testing in the permit application.
Dredge disposal sites
Selection of new candidate disposal sites in Australian waters should be based on minimal impacts on the marine environment and interference with other marine uses and users, and at acceptable economic costs. If you intend to use a new dredge disposal site, please submit your justification with your sea dumping permit application. You should consider:
- alternatives to dumping at sea, and characterisation of the type of dredge material to be dumped
- identification of candidate sites, including site feasibility and constraints mapping
- characterisation of candidate sites, including physical, chemical, and biological characteristics and other uses in the local area
- assessment of potential impacts
- site management and monitoring plan.
The application form for a dredge disposal permit should be read in conjunction with the National Assessment Guidelines for Dredging 2009, which describe in detail the procedures that are to be followed in sampling, testing, and assessing the suitability of material to be disposed at sea and evaluating and monitoring disposal sites. Where applicants require a specialist report to fulfil these requirements, the report should be attached to the application form and brief answers to the questions provided, cross-referenced to the relevant sections of the report.
Long Term Monitoring and Management Plan
Applications for 10 year permits to dispose of maintenance dredge material at sea will require a Long Term Monitoring and Management Plan.
Long Term Monitoring and Management Plan (PDF 49 KB)
Long Term Monitoring and Management Plan (DOCX 121 KB)
Officers assessing Long Term Monitoring and Management Plans will use a checklist for guidance.
Checklist for completing long term monitoring and management plans for dredging (PDF 70 KB)
Checklist for completing long term monitoring and management plans for dredging (DOCX 129 KB)
Permit application form and fee
The application fee for a permit to dispose of dredged or excavated material into any part of the sea are as follows:
- if the volume of the material is less than 100,000 cubic metres - $10,000
- if the volume of the material is more than 100,000 cubic metres - $23,500.
For more information on how to pay the fee, visit: how to apply for a sea dumping permit.
Permit application form to dispose of dredged or excavated material at sea (PDF 335 KB)
Permit application form to dispose of dredged or excavated material at sea (DOCX 105 KB)
If you have difficulty accessing these files, visit web accessibility for assistance.