Last updated 8 February 2023

While the Planning Act 2016 (Qld) (Planning Act) provides the main planning laws for Queensland, some important environmental protection laws are provided in the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld) (Environmental Protection Act). One of the major tools in the Environmental Protection Act is a system for regulating environmentally relevant activities (ERAs).

Most ERAs are listed in sch 2 of the Environmental Protection Regulation 2019 (Qld) (Environmental Protection Regulation) and include activities such as aquaculture, chemical manufacturing, chemical storage, oil refining, sewage treatment, electricity generation, extractive activities (e.g. dredging and quarrying), cement manufacture and waste disposal. These are referred to as ‘prescribed ERAs’ in the Act and Regulation.

A material change of use of premises for these activities requires development approval under the Planning Act and is assessed under ch 5 of the Environmental Protection Act as part of the development assessment process explained above.

A second small group of agricultural ERAs is also created in ch 4A of the Environmental Protection Act to regulate commercial sugar cane growing or cattle grazing in some catchments of the Great Barrier Reef.

A third group of resource ERAs requires approval under ch 5 of the Environmental Protection Act for geothermal energy production, greenhouse gas storage, mining or petroleum extraction (including coal seam gas production). These activities are not subject to the Planning Act system.