Law Reform · Nature & the Reef

Changes to EPBC Act Bilateral Agreement

05 January, 2015

Queensland has a new EPBC Assessment Bilateral Agreement with the Commonwealth.

The new Agreement allows for an ‘Impact Assessment Report’ (IAR) under the SDPWO Act to be used to assess significant impacts on MNES. Key issues concerning the accreditation of the IAR process include:

  • The IAR is said to be equivalent to assessment by way of Preliminary Documentation under the EPBC Act;
  • The IAR does not require public notification of draft TOR;
  • The IAR has fewer and weaker information requirements on the impacts, compared with an EIS;
  • There are slightly more criteria added for the  CG to declare assessment by way of an IAR (compared with criteria under the SDWPO Act), however the CG’s assessment decision and application of the Agreement requirements are still not open to statutory judicial review;
  • Cth Minister can request additional EIS-type information to be included in the IAR, but cannot request draft TOR be used.

Other key changes to the Assessment Bilat include:

  • The CG now has discretion to determine whether draft TOR for an EIS under the SDPWOA should be publically notified;
  • Instead of preparing ‘supplementary information’ in response to public submissions on the draft EIS/IAR, the proponent will now provide a ‘revised’ EIS/IAR under the new provisions of the SDPWO Act which ‘considers and summarises or takes into account the issues raised by the public in submissions’.

Environmental Defenders Office Queensland (EDO Qld) gives a strong legal voice to the environment when needed most.