The Queensland Government on 1 March 2013 approved significant changes to the Environmental Protection Regulation 2008 (Regulation). The most important feature is the deletion of 20 environmentally relevant activity (ERA) thresholds. What this means is that small to medium sized business operations, such as motor vehicle workshops, will no longer need to apply for an environmental approval from the state government to operate.

Deletion of 20 ERA thresholds prescribed under the Regulation

The Environmental Protection and Other Legislation Amendment Regulation (No. 1) 2013 No. 25 will take effect on 31 March 2013 to align with and give effect to the Environmental Protection (Greentape Reduction) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2012 that will also take effect on 31 March 2013.

It is envisaged that guidance documents and codes of practice will be created for those 20 ERAs that have been deleted. These codes of practice will be developed in consultation with both the industry and local governments. The codes are intended to provide certainty as to the environmental standards that affected businesses are to meet despite there no longer being a requirement to obtain approval.

Those businesses that no longer require an ERA to operate will still need to comply with the general environmental duty and other requirements under the Environmental Protection Act 1994, such as not causing an environmental nuisance.

What this means for you

New operators will no longer need to pay an application fee, obtain a registration certificate or pay annual fees. Businesses such as small asphalt manufacturers, feedlots (of up to 150 standard cattle units of cattle or up to 1000 standard sheep units of sheep), small petrol stations and small fuel depots, welders and steel workers and motor vehicle repair shops (including spray painting, body panel work and garages) will all benefit from the changes. For these types of small to medium sized business operators (among others) an environmental approval will no longer be needed to operate.

Click here to view the full list of the 20 ERA thresholds that have been deleted.

If you have recently lodged a development application involving an ERA, or you are considering lodging one, and you are unsure about how the changes will affect the application process, you should seek legal advice.