Environmental regulatory reform latest news
Environmental reform update
16 April 2020
The new Environment Protection Act 2019 (EP Act) was passed in September 2019. Draft Regulations were released for public consultation in November 2019 for a period of six weeks. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources met with key stakeholders to provide a briefing on the Regulations and address any initial questions or concerns.
The intent of the legislation in modernising the environmental impact assessment and environmental approval framework was recognised in many submissions received. The key areas of support communicated by a number of the submissions related to increased clarity and certainty, particularly associated with prescribed time frames, and greater transparency and accountability within decision-making. A clear statutory decision-making process was recognised as an important part of improving certainty for investment.
The Environment Protection Regulations have now been assented to by the Administrator and were gazetted on 15 April 2020. The Regulations available on the NT Government's legislation site.
The new Environment Protection legislation is expected to commence on 28 June 2020.
The Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NT EPA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources are developing guidance and other materials to support the operation of the new environmental assessment process. Guidance documents that assist proponents to understand and engage in the new process are being prioritised for development prior to commencement of the EP Act.
The NT EPA is currently consulting on draft Environmental impact assessment guidance:
- the NT EPA's Environmental factors and objectives and
- draft Environmental impact assessment guidance for proponents: referring a proposal to the NT EPA.
Further guidance documents to be released for consultation over coming weeks are listed below.
|Draft guidance||Anticipated release for consultation|
|Public guidance on preparing a submission||Week commencing 20 April 2020|
|Guidance for proponents – significant variations||Week commencing 20 April 2020|
|Guidance for proponents – preparing a Supplementary Environment Report (SER)||Week commencing 20 April 2020|
|Guidance for proponents – preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)||Week commencing 20 April 2020|
|Guidance for proponents – stakeholder engagement||Mid May 2020|
|Guidance for proponents – environmental management, mitigation, monitoring and reporting||Mid June 2020|
|Guidance for proponents – proponent initiated Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)||Mid June 2020|
|NT EPA guidance – amending terms of reference and reconsidering method of assessment.||Mid June 2020|
Guidance documents for consultation are available on the NT EPA website.
Draft environment protection regulations released for consultation
4 November 2019
Draft Environment Protection Regulations to support the Environment Protection Act 2019 have been released for consultation and are available on the regulations consultation website.
The website also contains supporting documentation designed to assist you in understanding and considering the draft regulations.
Submissions on the draft environment protection regulations will close Monday 16 December 2019.
The Environment Protection Bill 2019 has been passed
26 September 2019
On Thursday 19 September 2019, the Environment Protection Bill 2019 was debated and passed with minor amendments, this followed the tabling of the Social Policy Scrutiny Committee report on 17 September 2019, available at website.
The department will undertake further consultation on the draft environment protection regulations shortly.
Introduction of the Environment Protection Bill 2019
16 May 2019
The Minister for Environment and Natural Resources has today introduced the Environment Protection Bill 2019 into Parliament. The Bill's purpose is to introduce improvements to the environmental impact assessment and approval system for the Northern Territory comparable to other Australian jurisdictions and international best practice. It will replace the Environmental Assessment Act 1982 that has been in effect in the Northern Territory since 1984. The Bill is available from the Northern Territory Legislation website.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has prepared a range of documents to assist stakeholders to understand the Environment Protection Bill 2019.
The Bill has been referred to the Social Policy Scrutiny Committee for examination. Stakeholders will have further opportunity to provide feedback on the Bill during the Scrutiny Committee process. Visit the Social Policy Scrutiny Committee’s website for more information.
Outcomes of consultation on the draft Environment Protection Bill and Regulations
11 April 2019
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has now published the outcomes of consultation on the draft Environment Protection Bill and Regulations, which can be found on the outcomes of consultation web page.
The department thanks all those stakeholders who have contributed their time and effort in providing written and verbal submissions. The submissions have gone towards further improving proposed reforms to the environmental regulatory system and will assist to deliver sustainable development in the Northern Territory.
The department does not intend to release a revised draft Bill for further consultation, however stakeholders will be informed of the changes through updates on this website and will also be able to make submissions on the revised draft Bill through the Northern Territory Parliament's Policy Scrutiny Committee process, once it has been introduced into the Legislative Assembly in 2019.
Consultation has closed on the draft Environment Protection Bill and Regulations
12 December 2018
Consultation of the draft environment protection Bill and Regulations closed on the 3 December 2018. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has received 33 written submissions, and 30 stakeholders participated in one-on-one meetings.
The department would like to thank all those stakeholders who have contributed their time and effort in providing written and verbal submissions.
The submissions will go towards further improving the environmental regulatory reform system and will assist to deliver sustainable development in the Northern Territory. All submissions will be considered and the department will commence drafting amendments to the draft Bill and Regulations for Government's consideration in early 2019.
The department does not intend to release a revised draft Bill for further consultation, however stakeholders will be informed of the changes through updates on this website and will also be able to make submissions on the revised draft Bill through the Northern Territory Parliament’s Policy Scrutiny Committee process once it has been introduced into the Legislative Assembly.
Northern Territory Environmental Values and Objectives
Consultation on the establishment of the Northern Territory Environmental Values and Objectives (TEOs) has also closed.
The department again would like to acknowledge and thank the valuable participation contributed by key stakeholders.
The department will continue build on the work undertaken by key stakeholders on the values and objectives and will continue to provide updates on this element of the reform program.
Amendments to the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority Act
Amendments to the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority Act (NT EPA Act) were passed by the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday 27 November 2018, and given assent by the Administrator on Thursday 29 November.
- will improve governance and modernises the Act including new requirements for the NT EPA to prepare (in consultation with the Minister) and publish a 'statement of intent' identifying its proposed activities for the coming two years
- provide greater flexibility in the NT EPA membership, allowing the appointment of two additional members to the NT EPA consistent with Government’s commitments for the management of hydraulic fracturing activities and
- provide a power for the NT EPA to give advice to any minister about any proposed plan, program or other measure for managing the environment, which includes advice about environmental management plans prepared under the Petroleum (Environment) Regulations
- establish the new responsibility of 'assurance monitor' to undertake systemic reviews of the Territory's environmental management system.
The amended Act is now available from the legislation database.
Consultation draft Environment Protection Bill and Regulations
4 October 2018
On the 4 October 2018 the Department of Environment and Natural Resources released the draft Environment Protection Bill and draft Regulations for public consultation.
The draft Bill and draft Regulations are available on the environmental regulatory reform consultation website. Also on the website is a suite of supporting documentation designed to assist you in understanding and considering the draft legislation.
This draft legislation addresses the environmental impact assessment and approval framework; a separate legislative process will address the reforms to waste, pollution, land clearing and the environmental impacts of mining.
Submissions on the draft Bill and draft Regulations were open to 3 December 2018.
Consultation on the establish Northern Territory Environmental Values and Objectives
27 September 2018
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (the department) has engaged an independent consultant to assist with consultation on the establishment of the Northern Territory Environmental values and objectives.
The Northern Territory Environmental values and objectives are a key component of the reform process designed to support decision making in the environmental impact assessment and approval process.
The environmental values and objectives will be developed in collaboration with key stakeholders to ensure they stakeholders have an opportunity for direct input into the process and that their range of needs and concerns are considered.
Key Stakeholder consultation will be conducted between September and November 2018.
For more information on the establishment of the Northern Territory Environmental values and objectives please view the Consultation paper.
Review and appeals decision made
27 September 2018
The Northern Territory Government has considered a range of views on review provisions and mechanisms for inclusion into the new environment protection legislation.
Government is committed to the implementation of the recommendations from the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory (the Scientific Inquiry) which include open standing for judicial reviews, and broad standing for merits reviews.
The environment protection legislation will be broadly consistent with the approach recommended by the Scientific Inquiry.
Judicial review with open standing will be available for the following:
- decisions made by the NT EPA in relation to environmental impact assessment
- approval decisions made by the Minister for Environment and Natural Resources and
- licence or permit decisions made by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) or their delegate.
Merits review to the NTCAT will be available for decisions made by the minister and for licence or permit decisions made by the CEO of the DENR or their delegate. Standing for merits review will be available for:
- persons who are directly or indirectly affected by the decision
- members of an organised environmental, community or industry group
- Aboriginal Land Councils
- registered Native Title Prescribed Body Corporate and registered claimants under the Native Title Act
- local government bodies and
- persons who have made genuine and valid objection during any assessment or approval process.
Stage 2 scope defined
20 August 2018
The environmental regulatory reform program continues to progress with Government recently identifying the broad parameters for the next stage of the reform program. Key elements to be included in the next stage of environmental reforms are:
- the management of pollution, waste and litter
- the management of environmental impacts of mining
- the management of native vegetation clearing.
Matters which will not be addressed through this stage of the reform program include the Container Deposit Scheme, the Plastic Bag Ban, and matters related to ship-sourced pollution managed under the Marine Pollution Act.
These matters will continue to be managed under separate legislation. Reform and review processes relating to these issues will be undertaken separately to current environmental reform program.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources will be undertaking targeted stakeholder consultation on how Government can design a framework to implement these decisions.
Drafting of environmental legislation
27 June 2018
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (the department) has made substantial progress on the environmental regulatory reform program with the NT Government approving the commencement of drafting of the new Environment Protection Act.
To ensure this important legislation is introduced into Parliament in a timely manner, a highly experienced drafter will draft the new legislation. Stakeholder consultation will take place in late 2018 with the aim of introducing the draft legislation into Parliament in 2019.
In addition, the NT Government will also amend the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority Act (NT EPA Act).
The amendments will improve governance of the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NT EPA) and modernise the NT EPA Act. It is anticipated the amended legislation will be introduced into Parliament in August 2018.
Stage 1 progress
22 December 2017
Stage 1 of the environmental regulatory reform program has made considerable progress with Government making decisions about particular aspects of the new environmental protection Act.'
Government has agreed to:
- the definition of environment
- a conceptual assessment framework
- specific elements of the new assessment and approval process.
Roles and responsibilities under the new environment protection legislation
30 November 2017
The NT Government recently considered the future role of the NT EPA in the Territory's proposed new environmental management framework.
The government has determined that the NT EPA can best contribute to the protection and management of the environment by a strategic assessment, assurance and advisory role. The NT EPA will therefore:
- undertake the environmental impact assessment process and provide strategic advice to Government on the impacts of projects
- monitor and review the environmental management system and provide advice about the operation of the environmental management system and information on how to improve the system to deliver improved environmental outcomes and
- continue to provide advice on other environmental matters of strategic importance to the Territory.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources will be tasked with undertaking day to day environmental management activities such as licensing and ensuring compliance with the new environmental protection legislation. This will include undertaking compliance and enforcement activities associated with the new environmental approval to be issued by the Minister following the environmental impact assessment process.
These changes will be implemented over time as the new environment protection legislation is developed.
There will be no changes to the NT EPA's responsibilities in the short term.
Environmental Regulatory Reform feedback summary paper released
19 September 2017
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources released the Environmental Regulatory Reform Feedback summary paper.
This paper provides an overview and summary of the feedback received in response to the Environmental Regulatory Reform Discussion Paper released in May 2017.
Discussion paper stakeholder submissions released
28 June 2017
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources received 28 submissions in response to the Environmental Regulatory Reform Discussion Paper. View Submissions.
Environmental Regulatory Reform discussion paper released
3 May 2017
To progress Stage 1 of the environmental reforms program the Department of Environment and Natural Resources have released the Environmental Regulatory Reform Discussion Paper. This paper is intended to provide a snapshot of the reform process for environmental impact assessment and project approvals.
We acknowledge all of the work that has previously been undertaken by individuals and organisations in preparing submissions for Government.
We have prepared this paper to build on that work and seek feedback on our direction. It identifies our understanding of your views about the existing assessment and approval system and how we intend to address issues you have previously raised and recommendations you have made.
It also identifies those issues that we need more information about to help us develop new legislation.
It identifies topics which have not been addressed in previous submissions and those for which there is not a clear path forward.
Figure 2 in the discussion paper was updated on 26 May 2017.
Last updated: 12 August 2020
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