Environmental legislation licences and permits
All Australian businesses can play a part in environmental management, but whether environmental laws affect your business directly will depend on your business type.
Federal, state and local governments jointly administer the environmental protection laws in Australia through bilateral agreements. As a business owner, you need to understand which laws apply to you.
The Department of Environment administers the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. It covers the assessment and approval process of national environmental and cultural concerns. The Department also administers specific Acts that cover activities relating to:
- the sea
- heritage issues
- hazardous waste
- fuel quality.
Government agencies and industry groups also have a role in developing voluntary codes of practice that address the industry's impact on the environment.
Environmental legislation in your state or territory
Australian Capital Territory
- Environmental Protection Act 1997.
- The Environment Protection Guidelines for business and industry page covers the environmental legislation and codes of practice affecting ACT businesses.
New South Wales
- Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994.
- Information on Environmental policies, publications, procedures and strategies.
Environmental licences and permits
State and territory environment laws apply to specific business activities in the form of licences and permits. You can obtain approvals for environmental licences and permits from federal, state and local environmental agencies. The type of approval you need will depend on the location and type of business activity.
If your activity or action is likely to impact on areas of national environmental significance, you can obtain licences and permits from the federal Department of Environment and Energy. These include areas requiring special protection such as world and national heritage sites, wetlands, habitats of threatened or migratory species, federal marine areas and nuclear actions.
There may be quarantine restrictions on importing or exporting wildlife products, hazardous waste, ozone-depleting substances or synthetic greenhouse gases. You will need special approval through the Department of Environment and Energy for these items.
State and local Government licences and permits
If your activity is likely to impact on the local environment, such as parks, heritage sites, air and water, you can obtain licences and permits through your state or local governments.
Find out more
- Find more environmental management toolkits and resources in your state or territory.
- View information on federal environmental permits, licences and approvals at the Department of the Environment and Energy website.
- If your business is likely to perform an action or activity that will affect the environment, find out if you will need approval under the EPBC Act.
- Contact your council for information on local environmental licences and regulations.
- See Importing and Exporting for more information on importing, exporting and quarantine controls.
- For information on environmental assessments, visit the Department of the Environment website.
- Use the Department of the Environment's Protected Matters Search Tool to see if there are areas of national environmental significance near you.
- Consult an experienced business adviser, accountant or solicitor.