Departmental media release archive
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30 July 2003
The Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage has invited public comment on the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) Administrative Guidelines on Significance.
"The review is being undertaken to improve guidance about the EPBC Act to industry, conservation groups and other members of the community," said Gerard Early, Head of Approvals and Wildlife at the Department.
"Since its commencement in 2000, the EPBC Act has brought substantially greater protection for matters of 'National Environmental Significance' (NES). These include nationally threatened species and ecological communities, internationally important wetlands, World Heritage areas, migratory species, the Commonwealth marine area and nuclear actions, including uranium mining."
The Act also has a streamlined environmental assessment and approvals process for activities which trigger the Act, as well as an integrated system for biodiversity conservation and the management of important protected areas.
"The EPBC Act represents a fundamental reform of national environment laws and has set new benchmarks for predictable, transparent and timely processes," Mr Early said.
Published in July 2000, the Administrative Guidelines on Significance help people determine whether an action should be referred to the Environment Minister so he can decide whether approval is required under the Act.
The guidelines are intended to provide advice on whether a proposed action is likely to have a significant impact on any of the matters of NES.
"The Government has placed a high priority on increasing awareness of the EPBC Act, with an upgraded website, new publications including supplements to the Administrative Guidelines on Significance, and presentations to interested groups and organisations," Mr Early said.
"After nearly three years experience with the operation of the Act, now is an appropriate time to review the Guidelines to further enhance assistance available to stakeholders."
Public comments on the guidelines are now invited and close on 30 September 2003. Copies of the guidelines and information about the review can be found at: http://www.ea.gov.au/epbc/assessmentsapprovals/guidelines/invite.html. The upgraded EPBC website can be found at: www.ea.gov.au/epbc/
Jo Alston (02) 6274 2894