Environmental regulatory reform program

There is a recognised need for substantial reform of the Northern Territory's environment protection framework. Reforms are long overdue and critical to achieving a robust regulatory system that the community will trust to ensure the Territory's ecologically sustainable development, while encouraging industry investment and economic growth.

For more information on the benefits of this reform, read environmental reform in the Territory fact sheet PDF (5.5 MB).

For updates on the environmental regulatory reforms progress visit environmental regulatory reform latest news.

The Northern Territory (NT) Government  has committed to a range of environmental reforms to address current issues with the environmental framework and to design and implement a best practice environmental management regulatory framework.

To achieve this the NT Government has developed a 2 stage environmental reform program.

Stage 1 - Complete

Stage 1 will address reforms to the environmental impact assessment system.

It will introduce an environmental approval to be issued by the Minister for Environment and Natural Resources.

This stage will also address reforms to the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority Act 2012, to improve the accountability of the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NT EPA) and to further define its role in the environmental management system.

The Environment Protection Act 2019 and the Environment Protection Regulations 2020 will commence 28 June 2020. For information on the new assessment and approvals process please visit environmental assessment.

Stage 2

Stage 2 will address NT Government's commitments:

  • to transform the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act 1998, into a fully functioning environmental protection Act
  • fold environmental provisions of the Mining Management Act 2001, into the new environmental protection Act.

This stage will also consider and address duplication in the environmental management system.

June 2022

The Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security (DEPWS) has prepared the Consultation Draft Environment Protection Legislation Amendment (Chain of Responsibility) Bill 2022 PDF (303.3 KB) (the Bill). The Bill amends the Environment Protection Act 2019 and Environment Protection Regulations 2020 to introduce chain of responsibility (COR) laws as part of the Territory’s environmental regulatory framework.

The proposed amendments will contribute to the delivery of recommendation 14.30 of the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory. The proposed COR laws will only apply to petroleum activities at this time.

Engagement below:

Draft Bill

Environment Protection Legislation Amendment (Chain of Responsibility) Bill 2022 PDF (303.3 KB)

Supporting material

DEPWS has prepared a range of documents to assist stakeholders to understand the draft Bill.

Factsheet - Consultation Draft Bill - Context and Consultation Outcomes PDF (720.7 KB)

Factsheet - Reading an Amendment Bill - generic PDF (124.7 KB)

Factsheet - Reading the COR Draft Bill PDF (161.9 KB)

Factsheet - Consultation Draft Bill - Explanation of Clauses PDF (264.9 KB)

Factsheet - Environmental Financial Mechanisms PDF (185.6 KB).

July 2021

The Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security released an information paper on Environmental Chain of Responsibility (COR) Laws as part of the Territory Government’s environmental regulatory reform program.

The information paper PDF (942.8 KB) builds on feedback received from stakeholders throughout previous engagement programs, including the feedback received from recent consultation on the development of a new framework for the environmental regulation of mining activities in the Northern Territory. Engagement below:

December 2020

Release of the Consultation Paper PDF (1.0 MB) on proposed environmental regulatory reforms for mining activities in the Northern Territory. Engagement below:

November 2019

Draft Environment Protection Regulations to support the Environment Protection Act 2019 was released for consultation from 4 November to 16 December 2019.

All the released documents can be found on regulations consultation.

View the submissions that were received on the feedback page.

May 2019

The Environment Protection Bill 2019 (the Bill) was introduced into the Legislative Assembly on 16 May 2019 and is available from the Northern Territory Legislation website.

The department has prepared a range of documents to assist stakeholders to understand the Bill.

The Bill has been referred to the Social Policy Scrutiny Committee for examination. Stakeholders will have further opportunity to provide feedback on the Bill during the Scrutiny Committee process. Visit the Social Policy Scrutiny Committee’s website for more information.

October 2018

Release of the draft Environment Protection Bill and draft Environment Protection Regulations for public consultation on the new impact assessment and approval system. Engagement below:

May 2017

Release of the Environmental Regulatory Reform Discussion paper, the purpose of the paper was to provide a snapshot of the reform process for environmental impact assessment and project approvals. Engagement below:

There have been a number of reviews of the Northern Territory's (NT) environmental impact assessment and approvals system in recent years.

The most significant of these are:

At the national scale there have been a number of reviews looking at environmental regulation, including the Australian Productivity Commission's Major Project Development Assessment Processes (2013).

In addition, the NT Government and the NT EPA have received submissions from industry, non-government organisations and individuals on a range of other environmental related matters.

These submissions often raised issues relating to the assessment or approvals system and the effectiveness of the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act 1998. Examples include those submissions about:

The NT Government has considered information from these sources, and others, to develop proposed reforms to the assessment and approvals system.


Last updated: 13 October 2022

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