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EPBC Act Bilateral Agreement

What is the bilateral agreement?

The bilateral agreement between the Commonwealth of Australia and the State of Queensland relating to environmental assessment allows the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment to rely on specified environmental impact assessment processes of the State of Queensland in assessing actions under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

The objectives of the bilateral agreement are to:

  • Provide for the protect the environment, and ensure high environmental standards
  • promote the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of natural resources
  • ensure an efficient, timely and effective process for environmental assessment and approval of actions
  • minimise duplication in environmental assessments.

There are current Administrative Arrangements that set out how they work together to ensure the environmental impact statement (EIS) assessment process is effective for each project. The Queensland Department of Environment and Science is responsible for the Administrative Arrangements for all EIS assessments conducted under Chapter 3, of the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (EP Act).

What triggers the bilateral agreement?

The bilateral agreement applies to proposals that are 'controlled actions' requiring assessment under Part 8 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) and which are undergoing an EIS assessment process under:

  • Chapter 3, Part 1 of the Environmental Protection Act 1994; or
  • Part 4 of the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971.

The bilateral agreement only covers the assessment requirements of the EPBC Act assessment process. The Commonwealth Government retains its separate approval powers under Part 9 of the EPBC Act.

Where can I find more details about the bilateral agreement?

While it is commonly referred to as ‘the bilateral agreement’, its full title is “A bilateral agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of Queensland under Section 45 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 relating to environmental assessment”.

Proponents wishing to obtain advice on whether their proposed project is a controlled action under the EPBC Act should contact the Commonwealth Environment Department.