The Northern Territory Environmental Protection Authority (NT EPA) is preparing to implement the NT Government’s newly reformed environmental regulatory regime, the new Environment Protection Act 2019, which was passed in September 2019.
According to the Northern Territory Government’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the intent of the legislation is to modernise the environmental impact assessment and environmental approval framework. This aim was recognised in many submissions received during a six week long public consultation period held last year.
“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,” it stated.
“A clear statutory decision-making process was recognised as an important part of improving certainty for investment.”
The Environment Protection Regulations were gazetted on 15 April 2020 and are available on the NT Government’s legislation site.
When it commences on 28 June 2020, the Environment Protection Act 2019 will replace the current environmental impact assessment process.
The new process is described in The Guide to Environmental Impact Assessment and Approval in the NT and this flowchart.
Transition of existing environmental impact assessment processes
The NT EPA has developed a Policy for the transition of proposals undergoing environmental impact assessment under the Environmental Assessment Act 1982.
Proponents affected by transition arrangements should continue to direct enquiries to the Environmental Assessments team in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
New guidance material
To assist proponents of development proposals and other stakeholders to understand and participate in the new environmental impact assessment process, the NT EPA is developing a series of guidance documents in consultation with stakeholders.
These guidance documents will be made available for public comment for six weeks before being finalised.
When the Environment Protection Act 2019 commences, the new guidance documents will replace all previous environmental impact assessment guidance. To view the draft guidance and make a comment, please visit the consultation page.
The NT EPA states that new guidance material is being developed in focused streams, and organised in the following structure:
Environmental impact assessment
Guidance for stakeholders
Guidance for proponents
9: Stakeholder engagement
10: Referring a proponent initiated EIS
11: Environmental management, monitoring and reporting
To be developed for each of the NT EPA environmental factors and objectives.
The NT EPA intends to finalise guidance 1 to 9 (above) prior to commencement of the Environment Protection Act 2019.
Other guidance, including technical guidance, is currently being prepared and will be published for public comment when available.