Community involvement in mining and petroleum lease approvals
EIS under the Environmental Protection Act 1994
A resource company will complete an EIS under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 if it has volunteered to do so, or the chief executive of the Department of Environment and Science has required one be completed.
A resource company may apply to prepare a voluntary EIS. The chief executive will approve this application if they consider an EIS is appropriate for the project.
The chief executive may decide an EIS is required for a project if the project requires a site-specific environmental authority and the project has not already undergone an EIS process under the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971.
When considering whether or not to require a project proponent to undertake an EIS, the chief executive must consider the ‘standard criteria’. The standard criteria includes considerations such as:
- Best practice environmental management for activities under an environmental authority
- The public interest
- Any relevant site management plan, and
- The character, resilience and values of the environment in the area.
Community participation in Environmental Protection Act 1994 EIS process
Comment on draft terms of reference
Terms of reference are used to define the purpose and structure of the EIS. Before an EIS is developed, the resource company will develop draft terms of reference for the EIS.
Once the resource company has submitted the draft terms of reference, the chief executive of the Department of Environment and Science places a notice containing details about the draft terms of reference on the Department’s website. The resource company must also provide a copy of this notice to affected and interested persons.
When the draft terms of reference are notified, any person may comment on them. The comment period is open for at least 30 business days.
The resource company must respond to comments, and make any necessary adjustments to the terms of reference required as a result.
The chief executive of the Department of Environment and Science considers the comments received, and finalises the terms of reference.
Who are affected and interested persons?
Affected persons includes the landholders whose land will be used for the project and other landholders potentially affected by the project.
Interested persons are any person the resource company thinks will be interested in being notified of the draft terms of reference, such as an unincorporated community or environmental body connected to the local area.
Submission on EIS
When the terms of reference are finalised, the resource company prepare the EIS. If the chief executive of the Department of Environment and Science considers the EIS addresses the terms of reference, then the resource company must publicly notify the EIS by placing a notice in the newspaper and on a website, and directly notifying any affected and interested people.
Any person may make a submission on the EIS. The period for submissions must be at least 30 business days.
If you decide to make a submission on the EIS, it must be ‘properly made’. This means the submission must:
- be written
- signed by the writer(s)
- state the name and address of each writer
- be made to the chief executive
- be received on or before the last day of the submission period.
The chief executive must consider the submissions made on the EIS when preparing a final report on the EIS. This final report assesses the resource company’s EIS, and can include conditions which must be attached to any environmental authority (EA) granted for the project.
Individuals who make a submission on the EIS are able to later object to the approval of an EA for a mining project in the Land Court, or appeal to the Land Court about a decision to approve an EA for a petroleum project.
In some circumstances, making a submission on the EIS may be the only opportunity for the public to make a submission about a proposed project on environmental grounds. This is because there is no ability to make a submission on the environmental authority if:
- the project’s EIS has been completed
- the project’s environmental risks of the activities have not changed since they were assessed in the EIS
- the way the activities will be carried out has changed, the change is unlikely to attract a submission.
For further information on this process please visit EIS processes under the Environmental Protection Act 1994.
In this guide:
- Environmental impact statements
- EIS under the Environmental Protection Act 1994
- EIS under the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971
- Environmental authorities for mining projects
- Environmental authorities for petroleum projects