The Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999: What Role for the Commonwealth in Environmental Impact Assessment?
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-26, 16:29 authored by Padgett, R, Kriwoken, L
The Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cwlth) was proclaimed on 16 July 2000. This Act represents the most fundamental reform of environment legislation since the 1970s and it will change dramatically the role of the Commonwealth in environmental impact assessment. The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act provides for Commonwealth involvement in environmental impact assessment to be focused on six matters of 'national environmental significance'. Another significant feature of this Act is that it provides a framework for the accreditation of State and Territory environmental assessment and approval processes. This article provides an outline of the repealed Federal environmental impact assessment legislation, the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974 (Cwlth), an assessment of its deficiencies and a discussion of the key reviews of Commonwealth environmental impact assessment. The main features of the new Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, along with the debate regarding the future role of the Commonwealth in environmental impact assessment, are then discussed. The issue of whether the new Act reflects an expansion or devolution of Commonwealth power with respect to environmental impact assessment is addressed and it is argued that the Act has the potential to expand Commonwealth power.
Publication titleAustralian Journal of Environmental Management