The Australian Government (the Commonwealth), State and Territory governments, and local authorities jointly administer environmental protection in Australia. This multiplicity of administering bodies can be disconcerting and confusing to a new entrant into Australia or even an organisation moving or growing across State or Territory boundaries. DJG & Associates has experience with the environmental legislation and the regulatory authorities in most of the Australian jurisdictions, and can help you to understand your regulatory requirements and how best to move your project effectively and efficiently through the legislative and community environmental obligations.
This information sheet does not intend to be an authoritative explanation of Australian environmental legislation, regulations and other obligations. But a quick summary of some pieces of legislation in a few selected jurisdictions is necessary to place the way that the environment is protected into an overall context.
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) is the central piece of environmental legislation at the Commonwealth level. It provides a legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities and heritage places defined in the Act as matters of national environmental significance. Generally, most resource, infrastructure and industry development will be dealt with at the State level, with little interaction with the EPBC Act. However for large resources and other projects, there are federal and State processes. The EPBC Act also now covers projects with certain minimum levels of greenhouse emissions.
At the State and Territory level, there are different regulatory bodies and a range of different laws and regulations. It is necessary to define which regulatory bodies need to be consulted and which laws and regulations are applicable.
The critical issues for any organisation entering into Australia and any existing organisation moving or growing across State or Territory boundaries are to:
- Quickly understand who the regulators are and what legislation and regulations will affect your proposal.
- Build an appropriate team that can handle all the key aspects; legal, planning, environmental, public relations and community consultation.
- Project manage the process of getting environmental approvals. Far too many organisations try to obtain their environmental approvals and meet their non-regulatory environmental obligations in a very ad hoc way. This can lead to legal processes that get out-of-step with consultation with the regulator and more particularly with the community.
DJG & Associates can provide a high level of input into any environmental process, whether that be project managing the process, through to providing environmental science or engineering advice, community consultation and if necessary, expert testimony. Even in seemingly the most difficult environmental situations, good consultation with all stakeholders, backed by many years of technical experience, is the best way forward in the Australian environment.