The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (EPBC Act) is the Australian Government’s central piece of environmental legislation. It provides a legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities and heritage places – defined in the EPBC Act as ‘matters of national environmental significance’.
The 9 such matters in the EPBC Act are:
- world heritage properties
- national heritage places
- wetlands of international importance (often called ‘Ramsar’ wetlands after the international treaty such wetlands are listed under)
- nationally threatened species and ecological communities
- migratory species
- Commonwealth marine areas
- the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
- nuclear actions (including uranium mining)
- water resources, in relation to coal seam gas and large coal mining developments.
A proponent needs to seek approval to undertake an activity that could have a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance.