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Environmental approvals

Environmental approvals such as authorities, permits or licences are required under various legislation including, the Environmental Protection Act 1994, the Water Act 2000, the Marine Parks Act 2004 and the Nature Conservation Act 1992.

Please note disclaimer at bottom of page.

Further information

Boondal Wetlands Photo by DES

Quick facts

Wetlands

of high ecological significance are protected by the State Planning Policy (SPP). The SPP supports the Environmental Protection Act 1994 and related policies and plans established under other legislation, including the: Vegetation Management; Water, Fisheries; Coastal Protection and Management; Nature Conservation and Sustainable Planning.

 

 

Environmentally Relevant Activities

The aim of the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (EP Act) is to protect Queensland's environment while allowing for development that improves the total quality of life, now and in the future, in a way that maintains the ecological processes on which life depends. This approach is termed 'ecologically sustainable development'. The Environmental Protection Regulation 2008 outlines the State’s environmental interests.

To protect or give effect to the State’s interests for the environment, the Environmental Protection Regulation 2008 lists activities that have potential for environmental risk as prescribed activities requiring an environmental authority (EA).

To conduct an environmentally relevant activity (ERA), applicants must apply for an EA. Successful applicants will be licensed under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (EP Act) to operate their ERAs.

Mechanism and recognition of wetland values

There are two categories of ERA:

  • Prescribed activities; and
  • resource activities

Prescribed ERAs are industrial or intensive agricultural activities that have potential environmental risks. Examples include chemical manufacturing, sewage treatment, cement manufacturing and poultry farming. The Environmental Protection Regulation 2008 lists the 'prescribed ERAs' which are regulated under the EP Act and prescribes the fees to be paid, such as application fees and annual fees for ERAs.

Resource activities are:

Resource activities often require an EA. The EA is in addition to the tenure requirements under resource legislation. Those resource activities that meet the definition of small scale mining activities - ESR/2015/1827 in the EP Act do not require an environmental authority. These activities however, still need to comply with requirements under the Mineral Resources Act 1989, Mineral Resources Regulation 2013 and, financial assurance and rehabilitation conditions under the Environmental Protection Regulation 2008.

The Water Act 2000 sets out requirements for petroleum producers, some of these are of direct relevance to wetland protection including:

  • undertaking a baseline assessment of landowners’ water bores
  • developing underground water impact reports that include a water monitoring strategy and a spring impact management strategy
  • outlining clear legal obligations for petroleum producers to make good, any impacts on bores capacity to supply water for its authorised use and purpose
  • “trigger thresholds” which indicate the amount of groundwater decline that triggers the requirement for “make good” obligations.

The environmental authority (EA) application process recognises different levels of assessment according to the level of potential environmental risk. Eligibility criteria and standard conditions have been developed for certain EA applications including restrictions on relevant activities in or adjacent to a wetland or watercourse and environmentally sensitive areas. Conditions for regulating impacts to wetlands are included in model conditions for resource activities, developed with industry.

Matters relating to the land use component of an ERA are dealt with under the Planning Act 2016. They are prescribed by the Planning Regulation 2017 and assessed against State Development Assessment Provisions (SDAP) state code: Environmentally relevant activities).

Resource activities may also be required to undergo an environmental impact statement (EIS) process preceding, and additional to, acquiring an environmental authority. The Environmental Protection Regulation 2008 sets out environmental objectives and performance outcomes for a range of values including land, wetlands and waters. The EIS must identify and describe the environmental values to be protected and how the project will meet requirements under the Regulation.

Resources

Riverine Protection

The Water Act 2000 (Water Act) provides a legislative basis for the sustainable planning and management of the State’s water resources.The Water Act outlines the State's interests for riverine protection.

To protect or give effect to the State’s interests, matters relating to activities within a watercourse, lake or spring may require riverine protection permit and other approvals.

Mechanism and recognition of wetland values

Under the Water Act a riverine protection permit may be required to destroy vegetation, excavate or place fill within a watercourse, lake or spring. The definition of a lake includes a swamp. These activities could require other approvals such as the owner’s consent and vegetation clearing. Certain activities are exempt from having to apply for and obtain a riverine protection permit; minimum requirements are specified to be eligible for an exemption.

In deciding whether to grant or refuse an application or in the setting of approval conditions, the Water Act specifies several criteria that the chief executive must consider including:

  • the effects of the proposed activity on water quality;
  • the seasonal factors influencing the watercourse, lake or spring from time to time;
  • the quantity and type of vegetation that would be destroyed as a necessary and unavoidable part of the proposed excavation or placing of fill (affected vegetation);
  • the position in the watercourse, lake or spring of the proposed excavation or placing of fill and any affected vegetation;
  • whether, and to what extent, the activity that the permit would allow may have an adverse effect on the physical integrity of the watercourse, lake or spring;
  • the implications of granting the permit on the long-term sustainable use of the river systems of Australia, and especially the cumulative effect of granting the application and likely similar applications

Resources

State Marine Parks

The aim of the Marine Parks Act 2004 is to provide for the conservation of the marine environment through the declaration and management of marine parks. Zoning plans state the entry and use provisions for each State marine park. The MP Act outlines the State’s interests for marine parks.

To protect or give effect to the State’s interests, matters relating to activities within a marine park may require a permit.

Mechanism and recognition of wetland values

The State Marine Park Zoning Plan will specify whether a State marine park permit is required to enter or use the zone for an activity. Permits are assessed against criteria in the Marine Parks Regulation 2017 and zoning plans.

There is a joint permit assessment process administered by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) in consultation with the State in the case of permits for activities that involve both the Commonwealth Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the State Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park.

Resources

Protected Plants

The object of the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (NC Act) is to conserve nature while allowing for the involvement of indigenous people in the management of protected areas in which they have an interest under Aboriginal tradition or Island custom. The object is to be achieved through an integrated and comprehensive conservation strategy for the whole of the State that involves among other things, the dedication/declaration and management of protected areas and the protection of native wildlife and its habitat. In Queensland all plants that are native to Australia are protected plants under the NC Act. The NC Act outlines the State’s interests for nature conservation including protected plants.

To protect or give effect to the State’s interests, matters relating to protected plants may require approvals including protected plant clearing permits, protected plant harvesting licences and protected plant growing licences.

Mechanism and recognition of wetland values

The regulatory framework captures clearing and harvesting activities that pose a significant risk to biodiversity.

Clearing protected plants

Prior to clearing native plants in the wild, exemptions under the NC Act must be determined (if relevant) and the flora survey trigger map, checked. This is irrespective of the classification of the vegetation under the Vegetation Management Act 1999,

Use (harvesting, growing and trade) of restricted plants

A restricted plant is a native plant listed as special least concern, near threatened, vulnerable or endangered under the NC Act.

A harvesting licence may be required to harvest protected plants in the wild, and must demonstrate that the proposed harvest is ecologically sustainable.

All harvesting, whether or not a licence is required, must comply with the Code of practice for the harvest and use of protected plants. The code lists quantities of restricted plant parts (other than endangered plants) that may be taken without a licence and provides standards for people involved in harvesting, keeping and using protected plants in Queensland.

A growing licence may be required for the use of restricted plants and plant parts, specifically for propagation and cultivation purposes.

Trade

The trading of protected plants is not licenced, but is regulated through the Code of practice for the harvest and use of protected plants. To trade, you must demonstrate that the plants are sourced and traded legitimately by adhering to the self-regulated record keeping system that allows plants to be tracked from harvesting to trade (from source to point of sale).

Resources

Protected wildlife (animals)

The object of the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (NC Act) is to conserve nature while allowing for the involvement of indigenous people in the management of protected areas in which they have an interest under Aboriginal tradition or Island custom. The object is to be achieved through an integrated and comprehensive conservation strategy for the whole of the State that involves among other things, the dedication/declaration and management of protected areas and the protection of native wildlife and its habitat. Much of Queensland's native wildlife is protected by legislation. The NC Act aims to protect biodiversity and to maintain the ecological sustainability of any use of protected wildlife, all native birds, reptiles, mammals and amphibians are protected in Queensland, along with a limited range of invertebrates, freshwater fish and the grey nurse shark.The NC Act outlines the State’s interests for native animals.

To protect or give effect to the State’s interests, matters relating to native wildlife may require approvals. A licensing system helps ensure viable wild populations of animals are maintained and that the taking, keeping, using or moving of wildlife for commercial, recreational or other purposes is monitored. Key wildlife authorities include Species Management Programs, Flying-Fox Roost Management Permit and Rehabilitation Permit - Spotter-catcher.

Mechanism and recognition of wetland values

Species Management Program (SMP) provides the Approval to tamper with an animal breeding place. For example, structures such as bird nests and tree hollows. SMPs should be used as part of planned activities that incorporate management actions that will avoid or minimise both the immediate and the long term impact of removing or altering an animal breeding place.

Flying-fox Roost Management Permits permit the management of roosts that are non-code compliant activities within an Urban Flying-Fox Management Area (UFFMA) or activities undertaken by a private property owner or to manage a roost outside of an UFFMA. All activities must be undertaken in accordance with the Code of Practice – Ecologically sustainable management of flying-fox roosts.

Rehabilitation Permits –spotter-catcher provides authority for persons with suitable skills, knowledge and ability to undertake activities in the care of sick injured or orphaned animals in Queensland. The spotter catcher deals with animals whose habitat has been or is about to be destroyed, and determines if the animal can be released into a more appropriate habitat, or released to a vet/carer.

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Disclaimer

While every care is taken to ensure the accuracy of this product, the Queensland Government and Australian Government make no representations or warranties about accuracy, reliability, completeness or suitability for any particular purpose and disclaim all responsibility and all liability (including without limitation, liability in negligence) for all expenses, losses, damages (including indirect or consequential damage) and costs which might be incurred as a consequence of reliance on the product, or as a result of the product being inaccurate or incomplete in any way and for any reason.


Last updated: 26 July 2018

This page should be cited as:

Environmental approvals, WetlandInfo 2018, Department of Environment and Science, Queensland, viewed 9 October 2018, <https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/management/legislation-update/enviro-approvals/>.

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Science