The EPBC Act does not replace the need for proponents to obtain local government approvals such as development approvals. Rather, it requires proponents to also obtain Commonwealth approval if an action is likely to have a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance. Proponents must still get all necessary permits and approvals from local, State, and Commonwealth governments before they can take an action.
The responsibility for referring an action to the Commonwealth Environment Minister lies with the person proposing to take that action. A local government is only obliged to refer an action that the local government itself proposes to take. It is not responsible for referring the actions of other proponents.
While it is the responsibility of proponents to ensure that they have all the necessary approvals before taking an action, local governments are encouraged to tell proponents that some actions may need Commonwealth approval under the EPBC Act. Referring proponents to this web site can help them to decide whether they need to seek approval. The Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts can also provide brochures about the EPBC Act to local governments to give to proponents. Proponents seeking detailed advice on the EPBC Act should be referred to the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.
Under the Act, proponents are required to publish certain assessment documents, such as public environment reports or environmental impact statements, for public information and comment. To ensure that these documents are accessible to the community most affected by proposals, the Act requires that copies of the documents be lodged at a relevant local authority or regional library, as well as being available from the proponent. Proponents will therefore need to contact local authorities to ask for the material to be displayed in libraries or offices.