Help on assessment and approval notifications
How to use the EPBC Act Notices database
The main page of this site displays a list of referrals received by the department in the last seven business days. The term 'referrals' is used to denote all actions referred to the department for a decision whether approval is required under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). If you are interested in one of these referrals click on the title hyperlink to see more information.
If you want to comment on a referral or draft assessment guidelines use the List: dropdown menu to select Invitations to Comment and click on the Go button. This will take you to the Invitation to Comment page which lists all Invitations to Comment up until their deadline date. The display defaults to show All Invitations regardless of your input.
You can combine the List: dropdown menu with the In: [last number of days] dropdown menu to display different types of notices over time:
Items that can be selected from the List: dropdown menu are as follows:
- Referrals list: Actions that may require approval under the EPBC Act are referred to the department. A list of referrals can be viewed by selecting the Referrals list item from the List: dropdown menu and the In: [last number of days] dropdown menu . Then click the Go button to view a list of referrals for the selected number of days. To see more details for a particular referral click on the title hyperlink for that referral.
- Public notifications relating to referrals: A list of Public Notifications relating to referrals (e.g. Assessment events, decisions and invitations to comment), can be viewed by selecting the Public Notifications relating to referrals item from the List: dropdown menu and the In: [last number of days] dropdown menu. Then click the Go button to display. To see more details for a particular referral click on the title hyperlink for that referral.
- Invitations to comment: Public Notifications of Invitations to Comment on a referral are also separately listed to make them easier to find. A list of all Invitations to Comment can be viewed by selecting the Invitations to Comment item from the List: dropdown menu. Then click the Go button to display. The [last number of days] will default to show ALL current invitations to comment. To see more details for a particular referral click on the title hyperlink for that referral.
- Exemption notices: A list of Exemptions can be viewed by selecting the Exemptions notices item from the List: dropdown menu. Then click the Go button to display. The [last number of days] and Search functions are disabled for Exemption notices.
- Exemption notices - cetacean permits: A list of cetacean permit exemptions can be viewed by selecting the Exemption notices - Cetacean Permits item from the List: dropdown menu. Then click the Go button to display. The [last number of days] and Search functions are disabled for Cetacean permit exemptions.
- Cetacean permit notices: A list of notifications relating to the assessment of Cetacean permits can be viewed by selecting the Cetacean permits item from the List: dropdown menu. Then click the Go button to display. The [last number of days] and Search functions are disabled for Cetacean permit notices.
- Strategic assessments notices: Notices relating to the strategic assessment of a policy, program or plan can be viewed by selecting Strategic Assessments notices item from the List: dropdown menu. Then click the Go button to display. The [last number of days] and Search functions are disabled for Strategic Assessments notices.
How to perform a search
- The text search operates on the Reference Number, Title of Referral and Notifications from EPBC Act columns on the current page only.
- The Title of Referral is system generated from:
Name of organisation or person making the referral/ Category/ Location/ State/ Description, e.g. Cable Sands (WA) Pty Ltd/Mining - sand/Tutunup/WA/Titanium Minerals Deposit
To refine a search for referrals
- choose Referrals list from the List: dropdown menu
- choose the timeframe from the In: dropdown menu
- enter in your Locality or State, Organisation or person's name or type of development, or Reference number etc to search the Reference Number and Title of Referral fields in the Search box
- On the Public Notifications page you can search text in the Notifications from EPBC Act column E.g. 'Decision' or 'Approval required'
- click GO
- If you search for 'mining sand' the search will only match those referrals that have exactly 'mining sand' in their titles. It would not find the above example of Cable Sands (WA) Pty Ltd/Mining - sand/Tutunup/WA/Titanium Minerals Deposit. It is better to keep your search to a single shortened word e.g. 'sand', 'bhp', 'nuclear'
- set the In: dropdown menu to All to make sure you search ALL records. Otherwise you may only be searching the last 7 days of records.
- the search is not case sensitive
- the search is disabled on the Exemption, Strategic Assessment, and Cetacean Permits pages.
- The list of activity categories used in referral titles was changed on 14 December 2001. See further details of Category Descriptions
Invitations for public comment
The EPBC Act provides for a public comment period of 10 business days (with no extensions). A decision on whether a proposed action requires approval will be made within 20 business days. We publish the outcome of the decision as a public notice.
You can review a copy of the referral in the Invitations to Comment tab.
The decision-maker will consider all public comments. We cannot guarantee that all comments will be acknowledged or responded to.
The Department accepts public comments on EPBC projects via Have Your Say. More information about how to submit your comment can be found below.
Submitting your comments
We have shifted to using our Have Your Say platform to accept public comments on referrals.
This is the first step in our transition to a new online assessment platform. We expect to launch our comments platform in mid-2022. You will be able to subscribe and be notified when we publish a referral in your area or industry of interest.
Or post to:
Governance and Reform Branch
Department of the Environment
GPO Box 787
Canberra ACT 2601
Ensuring your comments are effective
- State clearly whether, and how, you believe the proposal would have a significant impact on matters protected by the EPBC Act. The Minister, or their delegate, can only take into account comments, concerns or issues relating to the specific matters of national environmental significance or matters protected under the EPBC Act. Be specific and state which aspects of the proposal would impact on matters. For example, a particular listed species or heritage value.
- If you believe the information in the referral is misleading or incorrect, you should state the reasons why and provide correct information, if available.
- Give the source of any key information used in reaching your conclusion.
- Provide clear contact details so we can get in touch with you if we need to seek clarification.
Provide comments by the due date. If your comments are going to be late, please contact us before the due date. Let us know of your intention to provide comment, and the date you will provide the comment. We will advise you if the comments can be accepted.
Privacy and confidentiality
Submissions may be:
- subject to release under the Freedom of Information Act 1982
- provided to third parties for procedural fairness purposes (also known as natural justice).
Public submissions are not normally confidential. If you wish us to treat your submission as confidential, please mark it clearly as 'confidential' and provide your reasons for it to be considered as such. We will use our best endeavours to deal with the submission accordingly. This does not make it automatically exempt from release.
We no longer accept public comments via email. Comments submitted via email may not be captured or considered. Instead, please submit your comment via Have Your Say.
For questions about the public comment process you can contact the Department by:
- Phone 02 6274 2496
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Draft assessment guidelines
If the Minister has decided that the public should be invited to comment on the draft assessment guidelines an invitation will be displayed on the web site. The period for public comment is at the Minister's discretion and will be displayed on the web site and in the documentation.
Please send your comments on the draft guidelines quoting the Reference number and title of the referral to either:
- the Senior Project Officer as described in the accompanying invitation to comment document on the web site or
- Email: EPBCAssessmentGuidelines@environment.gov.au
File format information
Documents available on the EPBC notices site are available as Adobe Acrobat Reader PDF format. If you are unable to use this format please contact our Community Information Unit on 1800 803 772
Reference numbers clarified
Reference numbers for each referral are system generated in the database from the Year and an ID number eg: year/nnn, 2000/102. The ID number part of the reference number does not reset at the start of each new year.
There are several reasons for the apparent blanks in the reference numbers:
- Early versions of our Oracle database application assigned the system sequence numbers leaving gaps;
- Occasionally, a referral may be deleted if it has been incorrectly entered;
- The Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts may have requested the proponent to supply further information. The reference number will have been allocated but no details can be published until the information is received.
An activity category is allocated to each referral when it is received by the Department of the Environment, and this category appears in the referral title used in this site. The category describes the type of activity proposed in the referral and is mainly used for reporting and statistical purposes.
Caveat: the categories were refined in 2006, some older referrals have other categories in their title. The categories are:
- Agriculture and forestry
- Water management and use
- Energy generation and supply (non-renewable)
- Energy generation and supply (renewable)
- Exploration (mineral, oil and gas - marine)
- Exploration (mineral, oil and gas - non-marine)
- Natural resources management
- Science and research
- Tourism and recreation
- Transport - air and space
- Transport - land
- Transport - water
- Residential development
- Commercial development
- Waste management (sewerage)
- Waste management (non-sewerage)
For further information
Or post to:
Database and Information Management Section
Environment Assessment and Compliance Division
Department of the Environment
GPO Box 787
Canberra ACT 2601
Proposal working title
The proposal working title for a referral is generated within the Department of the Environment when it is entered into the EPBC database. The title has five parts:
- Name of organisation or person making the referral;
- Activity category;
- Jurisdiction; and
- Project name or description.
An example is Woodside/Mining/North-West Shelf/Commonwealth Marine/Echo Yodel Petroleum Production Wells
Public notification of referrals which have been withdrawn by the person proposing to take the action commenced in February 2002 using the event 'Proposal Withdrawn' to assist members of the public to determine the status of proposals. Data for the proposals withdrawn prior to this date are being entered retrospectively, and will appear in the lists of recent referrals for 7 or 60 days after the data is entered. For more information, please contact us.
Missed and incorrect notifications
Some public notifications on the Internet and in the Gazette relating to the processing of referrals, controlled actions and permits for approval under Chapter 4 of the EPBC Act may occasionally be missed or incorrectly entered by the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, or may not meet timeframes for notification. The Department has implemented systems and ongoing quality assurance procedures to ensure that notifications are made within the required timeframes. When a missed notification is identified the Department will still publish it even though the timeframe has lapsed. When a notification is made incorrectly the practice will be to replace the incorrect notification with the correct one so that accurate information is published on the Internet and in the Gazette. This will ensure that the history of notifications for each referral and permit is available to the public. The Department regrets any inconvenience that may be caused by a missed or incorrect notification. Please note that late or incorrect notifications have not affected subsequent processing of referrals, assessments or permits and they do not affect decisions made.
Update of information about outcomes for approvals
From 1 July 2000 to March 2003 information about the outcomes of the decisions on approval under Chapter 4 of the EPBC Act were notified on the Internet and in the Gazette as either Approved or Not Approved. For decisions on approval made after April 2003 the department revised the outcomes to show whether approvals had conditions attached.
However information on the earlier approvals was not updated at that time. In August 2005 information for all approvals was updated to show whether they were Approved with Conditions or Approved without Conditions.