Under Section 41A of the Environment Protection Act 1997 (the Act), it is a requirement that certain activities that pose environmental risk call for an environmental authorisation. Environmental authorisations are one of the most important regulatory tools available to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), as they set out conditions for activities carrying with them the greatest environmental risk. Each authorisation can be individually tailored for the activity it authorises, and can impose specific conditions on the conduct of the activity.
There are three situations where an environmental authorisation is required. They are:
- The conduct of Class A activities, found under Schedule 1 of the Act. Due to their potential for causing significant environmental harm, are regulated to the highest of the levels in the Act;
- The conduct of Class B activities, found under Schedule 1 of the Act. Where activities are undertaken and an environmental protection agreement is not in place. Class B activities have less potential for causing significant environmental harm than Class A activities, but still require a level of detailed regulation; or
- Other situations determined by the EPA, as explained in Section 43 of the Act. The EPA may require an environmental authorisation on the grounds that the person conducting the activity has, is, or is likely to contravene the Act, and this contravention has caused, or is likely to cause, serious or material environmental harm.
Schedule 1 of the Act outlines these specific activities requiring an authorisation in further detail.
Each activity attracts different requirements to prevent environmental harm, which are commonly detailed in the standard conditions of an environmental authorisation. When applying for an environmental authorisation, you will need to fill out an application form related to the activity you are conducting, and may be required to provide additional information (e.g. copies of qualifications, etc). An authorisation may be granted for an unlimited period or for a specified time.
There are application and annual fees associated with environmental authorisations, with fees varying with the specific activity. The application fee must be provided on submission of your application and the annual fee is due 30 days after the grant of the authorisation. Authorisations granted for an unlimited period will require payment of the annual fee on the anniversary of the grant date.
See the links below for the standard applications and conditions for a number of common activities regulated by the EPA, including commercial use of agvet chemicals, the sale or supply of firewood and acceptance of more than 100 cubic metres of soil.
For applications regarding other scheduled activities or for further information on environmental authorisations, please contact the Access Canberra on 13 22 81.