The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 (EPBC Act) is a Federal Government statute which regulates actions which are likely to have a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance, of which there are nine.
The top 7 things Local Governments should know about the EPBC Act are:
1. The EPBC Act applies to actions taken by Local Governments which are likely to have a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance.
2. Local Governments can locate the matters of national environmental significance within their municipality by using a searchable mapping tool available at: http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/pmst/index.html.
3. It is a criminal offence to carry out a development which is likely to have a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance unless:
- an approval has been granted by the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment, or
- the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment has determined that approval is not required.
4. The EPBC Act does not apply to the creation or modification of local planning schemes.
5. The requirement to obtain the approval of a Local Government is additional to any requirements applicable to the development under the EPBC Act.
6. It is not the role of Local Governments to refer actions to the Minister for the Environment. However, Local Governments can advise proponents of their obligations under the EPBC Act.
7. It is the proponent’s responsibility to ensure that it has all necessary approvals.
Also, as part of the Commonwealth Government’s commitment to develop a ‘one-stop shop’ for environmental approvals, the Western Australian Government and the Commonwealth Government are currently developing a bilateral agreement which is expected to allow the Western Australian Government to both assess and approve developments under the EPBC Act. A draft of the bilateral agreement is expected to be released for public comment in the coming months.
For more information, contact Castledine Gregory.