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Frequently asked questions

The public register portal includes information and documentation required under sections 540 and 540A of the Environmental Protection Act 1994.

These frequently asked questions are designed to help you use the public register portal including how to navigate the portal and the search options available.

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What Information is contained in public register documents?

The department is unable to redact or remove parts of documents that are required to be kept on the Environmental Protection Act 1994 public register. This includes documents stamped ‘private’ or ‘commercial in confidence’ or ‘subject to legal professional privilege’. Public register documents include documents submitted to the department, such as application documents for environmental authorities and progressive rehabilitation and closure plans, annual returns, monitoring programs and their results, and   other documents required to be given under a condition of an environmental authority.

If you are concerned about a document being publically available you can contact the department to determine whether that document is required to be submitted under the EP Act. You should also seek your own independent legal advice on these types of issues as departmental officers are not able to provide you with legal advice.

How often is the portal content updated?

The portal content is updated each Friday morning to provide the current records and, where appropriate, updated or new documents.

What documents can I search for?

A list of the documents required to be kept in the public register is listed in section 540 and 540A of the Environmental Protection Act 1994 and section 147-149 of the Environmental Protection Regulation 2019.

What is the cost of obtaining copies of documents from the portal?

All documents are free of charge to download from the portal. If you request a copy outside of the portal the department may prescribe a reasonable fee for copying a document under section 543 of the Environmental Protection Act 1994.

What records can I download from the portal?

You can download two types of records:

  • the results of a search
  • the complete set of records for a particular document type.

All sets of records download in either Excel or .csv format. Wherever possible the Excel data sets are given the same headings for the same types of data, making it easier to combine data sets after they have been downloaded. For example, the data columns are identical in both the Environmental Authority and Historical Environmental Authority record sets when downloaded.

Note: Due to the large number of activity locations listed on some Environmental Authorities, the character limit for a single Excel cell may be exceeded. In this case only the specific location, regardless of the activities it is associated with, is included in the download.

Can I download documents from the portal?

Yes. Use the document link in the portal to open the document in a .pdf reader. You can then save a copy of the document.

Documents are not exported in bulk. They must be opened and saved one at a time.

The Excel file does not include all the records I expected

When exporting search results from the portal, only those displayed are downloaded. To download all the results from a search, increase the number of displayed results. Otherwise, you can either submit multiple searches and then download each search result file to export all results of your search OR you can export each view, for example, the portal displays a maximum of 200 rows, from 1000 total rows, export the first 200, click on next, then export the next 200. This will be two separate files.

Where do I find the conditions associated with an Environmental Authority?

The conditions for an Environmental Authority are contained within the permit document. Scroll down in the pdf reader to find the conditions.

How do I find copies of standard conditions?

Some Environmental Authorities are granted with the requirement to comply with eligibility criteria and standard conditions. Over time the department has changed the way these permit documents have been collated. This means there are several ways eligibility criteria and standard conditions are represented in a permit document. Either:

  • they are available via the permit document link in your search results (for recent permits); or
  • the conditions were not included in full in the permit document so the permit document included a link to an online version of the eligibility criteria and standard conditions that apply; or
  • the condition of the Environmental Authority were the standard conditions that were applicable at the time it was granted. View the standard conditions.

Why are there sometimes differences between the records of an Environmental Authority displayed in the portal and the details in the permit document?

Not every change to an Environmental Authority, including for example a permit reference number change, requires a new permit document to be issued. The record has the most current details of the Environmental Authority. The permit document contains the details and conditions that were current at the time that version of the permit was issued.

Why do some records not have documents attached?

If the department considers it impracticable to include a digital document in the register, then details of the document will be included in the register (pursuant to section 541(2) of the Environmental Protection Act 1994). There may be a number of reasons the Environmental Authority permit document is not available online. For example, the Environmental Authority may have standard conditions that are not provided as a separate document but are available by using the online link contained in the permit document or the permit document may not have been digitised due to its age.

Documents that are not available in the portal can be requested by contacting the department.

Why are there so many cancelled resource activity permits in the portal’s Historic Environmental Authority records?

In many cases, these relate to the introduction of small scale mining provisions, which allowed EA holders to cancel their mineral environmental authorities in favour of a small scale mining tenure.

Why are there so many cancelled prescribed environmentally relevant activities (ERA) in the portal’s Historic Environmental Authority records?

In many cases, these relate to the deletion of 20 environmentally relevant activities thresholds from Schedule 2 of the Environmental Protection Regulation 2008 in 2013.

How do I notify the department about an error in the portal content?

If you believe there is an error in the records and/or documents relating to you or your company please notify us by sending an email to Public.Register@des.qld.gov.au including:

  • Your name
  • Name of the company on the permit or enforcement document
  • Permit number or enforcement number
  • Your contact details
  • Specific details of the error.

The Environmental Authority I searched does not display a location in the detailed search result for the permit or is missing a location for one of the activities even though the permit showed up in the summary list of results?

This occurs when the location is not able to be referenced to a specific point (e.g. mobile location, adjacent to a lot and plan, or the Environmental Authority is issued to cover the State of Queensland) and therefore the information won’t be displayed in those instances.

To see the location of the permit, view the attached permit document. Documents that are not available in the portal can be requested by contacting the department.

I can search for a location, but it doesn’t show up in the details of the permit even though the permit showed up in the summary list of results?

This occurs when the location which cannot be referenced to a specific point.

To see all locations on the permit, view the attached permit document. Documents that are not available in the portal can be requested by contacting the department.

I have searched for an Environmental Authority number, but it does not show all the locations in the display of permit details even though I know the location is on the permit?

This occurs when there are multiple locations which cannot be referenced to a specific point. The system currently only shows the last of these locations.

If you search by the location, you think is missing you will find it with the EA reference.

To see all locations on the permit, view the attached permit document. Documents that are not available in the portal can be requested by contacting the department.

My search using lot on plan information didn’t return the documents I was expecting, is there a better way to find these?

If the record relates to a resource activity you can improve your search by using the mining or petroleum tenure instead of lot on plan information. You can check whether a permit exists for a resource activity by conducting a Public Search for Resources Authorities.

By entering the Lot / Plan details the search results will provide the details of the current resource tenure if one exists on this site. These details should be included when lodging a search request with the department.

Otherwise public register records reflect a ‘point in time’ which reflects the lot on plan that is recorded at the time a document is issued. Changes such as subdivisions or reconfigurations or land often result in changes to lot on plan information, however previously issued documents and records do not reflect this change. To improve your search, you may wish to obtain the historic lot on plan descriptions by conducting a title search and use this information to search the public register.

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How do I search the portal?

All documents in the portal are attached to a record. Searching the records provide links to the relevant documents.

All records in the portal can be searched using the search fields for each document type. Start your search with information where you have the most information. Make sure you enter the details correctly.

You cannot use a single search term to search across all document types. You can perform the same or a similar search for each document type. Below is a table that explains the search options for each document type available in the portal.

The particular search fields for:

  • Environmental Authorities and Historic Environmental Authorities are:
    • Permit number
    • Permit holder
    • Status
    • Activity
    • Industry
    • Date effective from and to
    • Location
  • Temporary emissions licences (TELs) are:
    • TEL number
    • TEL holder
    • Activity and status of the TEL
    • Issued date from and to
    • Location
  • Enforcements are:
    • Enforcement number
    • Enforcement type
    • Issued to
    • Status
    • Issued date from and to
    • Activity and Industry of any related Environmental Authority permit
    • Location

Each of the above can also be searched by location. Where that location data is able to be mapped (such as with a street address, or land tenure reference) the record can be searched by postcode, locality and local government area.

Can I search all information at once?

No. You must choose the type you want to search:

Can I find related documents and records?

Yes. Where a document and/or record are related to another document and/or record, they are linked in the portal. When you select a record to view, any related records or documents contained in the portal will appear at the end of the record display page.

If an enforcement record makes reference to an Environmental Authority document and/or record that is not available in the portal, the results page will not provide a link to a related document.

You can download a list of enforcement actions issued by the department. You can use the reference number contained in the Excel spreadsheet to request the document from the department.

Can I sort my search results?

Yes. The portal sorts search results by document reference number, by default. You can also sort search results by:

  • Document type (Environmental Authorities and enforcement actions, but not temporary emissions licences (TEL)
  • Date
  • Status.

You cannot sort by: permit holder; activity or locations because a permit may have more than one permit holder and one location and may have multiple activities.

How best do I search for a single permit, licence or enforcement action?

If you are searching for a specific document and/or record you should start with the document reference number, permit number and/or permit holder details. Searching these fields will provide the most targeted results.

My search returned a high volume of records, how can I find a specific document and/or record?

You can export the results of your search into Excel and use functions such as find, sort and filter to narrow your search. When exporting results, only the results displayed on that page will be exported. Documents are not exported in this process.

Can I search for general topics such as all Environmental Authorities related to a particular activity or location?

Yes. However, it is important not to apply too many filters to that search.

For example, you can use the search term ‘coal’ in the industry field to find all Environmental Authorities for coal mining. If you add an additional filter for a particular location the system will only return those records that have location data available in the portal.

If you want to combine records and/or documents from a number of searches across the same document type, download the records and combine them in Excel.

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How do the search filters work?

There are many filters that can be applied to a search of the portal.

However, the more filters that are applied the fewer records are likely to be returned. This is because every search term and every filter option selected must be contained in the portal for it to be listed in the results.

How do I search by document reference numbers?

All document types in the portal have reference numbers.

The document reference numbers are:

  • Permit number for all Environmental Authorities
  • Enforcement number for enforcement actions
  • Temporary emissions licence number for TELs.

How do I search by particular types of enforcement actions?

You can search for all the documents and/or records that relate to all or a particular type of enforcement action.

Use the ‘enforcement type’ search field and select from the following enforcement action types in the drop down menu:

  • accepted enforceable undertakings
  • clean-up notices
  • cost recovery notices.
  • direction notices
  • environmental protection orders
  • environmental evaluations
  • transitional environmental programs

How do I search by person or company name?

You can search by name for a person or company that:

  • holds an Environmental Authority permit
  • holds a temporary emissions licence (TEL)
  • has been issued with an enforcement action.

Where there are multiple holders the search will return all results where any name is a match.

How do I search by the status of a permit, licence or enforcement action?

All document types in the portal display the current status of the permit, licence or enforcement action.

Information about what each status means is provided below.

Status of the Environmental Authority

Explanation

Granted

The environmental authority has been granted and the holder is able to undertake the environmentally relevant activities authorised by the authority.

Granted—not yet effective

The environmental authority will not take effect until a required land use approval takes effect (e.g. a resource tenure or a development permit) or until a future date or event occurs (e.g. to allow for construction of required infrastructure before operations commence).

Suspended

The environmental authority has been suspended either voluntarily by the holder or by the administrating authority.

Surrendered

The administering authority has approved the surrender of the environmental authority and it is no longer current.

Cancelled

The administering authority has cancelled the environmental authority and it is no longer current.

Expired

The environmental authority was originally issued by a local government authority and it included an expiry date. The administering authority for the environmental authority subsequently changed to the department and the holder of the environmental authority elected to let the authority expire.

Status of TELs

Explanation

Granted

The temporary emissions licence (TEL)  has been granted and now temporarily allows the holder to release a contaminant into the environment only under the circumstances covered by the conditions of the TEL.

Superseded

This applies to TELs only. A superseded TEL has been replaced by a later version and is no longer is in force. Later versions are created when the TEL is amended by the administering authority.

Status of enforcement action

Explanation

Active

There are outstanding obligations which are actively being managed/monitored

Superseded

Used for enforcement action that have had a new version created

Cancelled

Only used when the Environmental Protection Act 1994 formally provides a head of power to use this status

Closed

The enforcement action has been closed and no further action is being taken.

Finalised

Obligations have been met or substantially met

Refused

Used for voluntary transitional environmental program and  environmental evaluation reports that are refused

Stayed

To be used for enforcement actions that have been stayed by a court

How do I search by date for a permit, licence or enforcement action?

You can search for Environmental Authorities and temporary emissions licences (TEL) that were effective within a certain date range, separately. Some Environmental Authorities are granted but will not become effective until a future date. These Environmental Authorities cannot be found with a date-based search and will not be included in results of a search based on effective dates.

Enforcement action records include the date the document was issued. A search can be made using the search field ‘issued date from’ and ‘issued date to’ provide a list of enforcement actions issued within the specified timeframe.

How do I search by industry?

You can use the industry search field to find Environmental Authorities that authorise certain activities:

  • for coal mining select ‘Coal’
  • for petroleum and gas activities (such as coal seam gas) select ‘Petroleum and Gas’
  • for all other mining select ‘Minerals’
  • for all non-resource related activities use ‘Industry and Development’.

You can also use the industry search field to find enforcement actions that are related to an Environmental Authority. Where an enforcement action is not related to an Environmental Authority those records and documents will not be included in a search of enforcement actions using the industry field.

You cannot use the industry search field to find individual activities/temporary emissions licences (TEL). However, you can search by activity or look at the Environmental Authority for each TEL to identify the relevant industry.

How do I search by activity for an Environmental Authority?

An Environmental Authority lists the authorised environmentally relevant activities (ERA). You can search the portal by selecting prescribed ERA or resource ERA to reduce the number of permits returned in the search.  The complete list of environmentally relevant activities are defined in Schedule 2 and 3 of the Environmental Protection Regulation 2019.

For example, to search for an Environmental Authorities for mining activities select the activity: Schedule 3 from the activities drop down menu. Alternatively you can use the industry search field to identify ‘Coal or other types of mining’.

How do I search by activity for a temporary emissions licence (TEL)?

A TEL only applies to particular conditions related to an Environmental Authority. You can search for a TEL by activity but can only select one activity at a time.

How do I search by activity for an enforcement action?

Where an enforcement action is related to an Environmental Authority (non-historic) you can search for it by any of the activities related to the Environmental Authority.

Where an enforcement action does not have a related Environmental Authority you cannot search for it by activity. If you want a list of all enforcement actions related to a particular ERA you will only get results where that enforcement tool is related to an Environmental Authority.

Searching by location

All document types in the portal include location details for the authorised activity or enforcement action. Environmental Authority and temporary emissions licence (TEL) records include location details specific to the location of Environmental Authority or TEL activity. Enforcement action records include location details of the site the enforcement action relates to.

You can search by location in each document type by:

  • Street address
  • Resource tenure reference (called Location)
  • Post code
  • Suburb or town (called Locality)
  • Local Government Area.

If you would like to verify whether a resource tenures exists you can conduct a Public Search for Resources Authorities. Using the Lot on Plan area search on the resource authority page will result in the search providing the details of a current resource tenure if one exists on this site.

You should not combine the location fields when searching as you increase the risk of not returning results. Search using the location field first as it can use all or part of:

  • A street address
  • A lot on plan reference
  • A suburb or town.

When searching for a lot and plan do not include the words ‘Lot’ or ‘Plan’ and you must have at least two digits of the Lot. For example: You cannot search ‘Lot 0’ or  '0'.

If a record or a location for an Environmental Authority, TEL or enforcement action is non-standard (is not expressed as an identifiable street address, lot on plan, or tenure reference), then the record in the portal will not include the location information. Examples include:

  • the address includes a location marker such as ‘adjacent to’ a landmark
  • the lot on plan information at the time of documents creation has been changed
  • the land area covered by the tenure crosses boundaries of two local government authorities or town areas.

If you are searching using the Local Government Area filter, records with non-standard locations and new records may not appear in your results. Try searching using other detail such as permit number, permit holder or activity to find the information and documents you are looking for.