New Ground | Expert Environmental Consultants in Queensland

Understanding the EPBC: A Guide for Developers

Australia’s rapid development comes with its unique set of challenges. One of the most critical aspects we face is ensuring the protection of wildlife, threatened ecological communities,  significant wetlands, and heritage sites that make our country so distinct. Here at New Ground, we understand the importance of balancing development with conservation. To achieve this, it’s crucial to understand the laws that govern our activities.

One such law that has a significant impact on the way we carry out projects is the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, also known as the EPBC Act.

What is the EPBC Act?

The EPBC Act is Australia’s key legal instrument designed to support ecologically sustainable development. It focuses on protecting nationally significant environmental matters, which include threatened species, land and marine environments, heritage sites, migratory species, and wetlands.

Your Responsibilities

As developers, understanding your responsibilities under the EPBC Act is critical when undertaking a new project. The Act requires that any project that may have a significant impact on protected matters complies with its stipulations.

But how does one go about ensuring compliance with the EPBC Act? Let’s break down the stages involved when planning a project.

  1. Self-Assessment

The initial step in the process is self-assessment. This process helps to determine if your project needs to be referred under the EPBC Act. It is advisable to start your research and planning as early as possible to prevent duplication, delays, and potentially lower costs.

  1.  Referral

If, after the self-assessment, you discover that your project may impact protected matters, the next stage is to submit a referral via the online EPBC Act Business Portal. All referrals are published on the EPBC Act Public Portal, and the public can provide comments on your proposal during certain stages of the EPBC Act process.

  1. Environmental Assessment

Once your referral is submitted, it will be reviewed to decide if an environmental assessment is required. During this assessment, more information might be requested from you. The aim of this stage is to thoroughly evaluate the potential impact of your project on the environment.

  1. Approval and Compliance

After a thorough assessment, a decision will be made by the Commonwealth Government regarding the approval of your project. If approved, it may come with certain conditions which must be complied with. These conditions often include the provision of management plans, reports, and pre-commencement requirements.

Ensuring Compliance with the EPBC Act

At New Ground, we can conduct comprehensive assessments, identifying any ecological risks and implementing strategies to manage them. We can help secure necessary permits from local, state and federal government and ensure that your project complies with all relevant ecological regulations and standards, including the EPBC Act.

For more information about the EPBC Act, visit the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website. Remember, the involvement of an ecological consultant not only safeguards the environment but also provides a resilient foundation for your project. This can minimise the potential legal and financial repercussions associated with environmental infractions.

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