Last updated 14 September 2020

Airports

The Airports Act 1996 (Cth) regulates major airports. At these airports, the Airports (Environment Protection) Regulations 1997 (Cth) regulate noise pollution and impose a general environmental duty on operators to take all reasonable and practicable measures to prevent pollution, offensive noise and adverse impacts to ecosystems and cultural heritage.

For other airports, Queensland laws such as the Planning Act 2016 (Qld) (Planning Act) and the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld) (Environmental Protection Act) apply.

Aquaculture

Aquaculture development is regulated at a state level by local government under the Planning Act. Environmental impacts of aquaculture as an environmentally relevant activity is regulated by the Department of Environment and Science under the Environmental Protection Act and Planning Act, and disease and escape of aquaculture product issues are regulated by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries under the Fisheries Act 1994 (Qld).

Aquaculture development adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area is regulated at a Commonwealth level by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 2019 (Cth), and if the proposed development is a controlled action under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) it is regulated under that Act.

Ports

Major ports are managed by port authorities and are largely exempt from local government planning schemes. Port authorities control development on strategic port land under a land use plan prepared under the Transport Infrastructure Act 1994 (Qld) and integrated into the development assessment under the Planning Act. Noise, dust, odour and other forms of environmental harm and environmental nuisance are regulated under the Environmental Protection Act.

The Sustainable Ports Development Act 2015 (Qld) restricts port expansions, dredging and disposal of dredge spoil.

Pollution from ships in ports is regulated under the Transport Operations (Marine Pollution) Act 1995 (Qld), which is administered by the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

Roads

The Department of Transport and Main Roads plans, constructs and manages main roads and highways under the Transport Infrastructure Act 1994 (Qld) and the Transport Planning and Coordination Act 1994 (Qld).

Local governments control and maintain local roads. Noise, dust, odour and other forms of environmental nuisance from road construction are regulated under the Environmental Protection Act.

Coordinated projects

The State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971 (Qld) (SDPWO Act) provides a general power to the state government’s Coordinator-General to facilitate development projects and to require an environmental impact statement (EIS). This is the main environmental impact assessment process in Queensland used for the largest and most damaging projects.

The EIS process begins when the Coordinator-General declares a project to be a ‘coordinated project’ (s 26 SDPWO Act). Public notice must be given of the draft terms of reference for the EIS, and during this time the public may make submissions. The proponent must then prepare the EIS to address the terms of reference. The public is given a further opportunity to make comments on the draft EIS before it is finalised. The Coordinator-General must then prepare a report evaluating the EIS, the submissions and any other additional information from the proponent and give a copy of the report to the proponent. This EIS process does not itself mean approval or refusal of the development, but is used in other assessment processes such as the Planning Act.