Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act


    Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act

    The Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (‘the Environment Act’) provides for Australia’s framework in relation to environmental protection. In particular, it provides for requirements regarding environmental approvals of activities which may have a ‘significant impact’ on the environment. 

    Last Updated: July 30, 2019

  • Requirements

    According to guidance issued by the Department of the Environment and Energy (‘the Department’)if an organisation is proposing to take action that could have a significant impact on the environment, it will need to refer the proposed action to the Australian Government Minister for the Environment. 

    A ‘significant impact’ is an impact which is important, notable, or of consequence, having regard to its context or intensity. Whether or not an action is likely to have a significant impact depends upon the sensitivity, value, and quality of the environment which is impacted, and upon the intensity, duration, magnitude and geographic extent of the impacts. Organisations should consider all of these factors when determining whether an action is likely to have a significant impact on the environment. 

    If an organisation is certain that it needs to refer the proposed action, it should complete the referral of proposed action form. 

    The Department has issued guidance regarding environment assessments and the approval process for organisations that require clarification as to whether the proposed action could have a significant impact on the environment. If you are not sure read through the assessment and approval process. 

    Organisations will need to obtain a permit application for certain activities for example: 

    • import or export of plants and animals (wildlife and wildlife products); 
    • activities which will affect any species or ecological community within a Commonwealth area; and 
    • research, commercial activities, filming and photography in a Commonwealth park or reserve. 

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