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.
Refer to the Environmental reform in the Territory fact sheet for more information on the benefits of this reform.
For updates on the Environmental regulatory reforms progress visit the Environmental regulatory reform latest news page.
The Northern Territory Government (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 two 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 the Environmental assessment webpage
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.
The Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security (DEPWS) has prepared the Consultation Draft Environment Protection Legislation Amendment (Chain of Responsibility) Bill 2022 (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.
Stakeholders are invited to provide written submissions on the draft Bill by COB Wednesday 3 August 2022.
DEPWS has prepared a range of documents to assist stakeholders to understand the draft Bill.
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 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:
Release of the Consultation Paper on proposed environmental regulatory reforms for mining activities in the Northern Territory. Engagement below:
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 the regulations consultation website.
View the submissions that were received on the feedback webpage.
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.
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:
- previous draft Environment Protection Bill and draft Environment Protection Regulations
- submissions received
- stakeholder Engagement Report on draft Environment Protection Legislation for the NT
- response to submissions on draft environment protection legislation for the NT
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's) environmental impact assessment and approvals system in recent years.
The most significant of these are:
- the Environment Protection Authority's Final Advice on Improving Environmental Assessment in the Northern Territory (2010)
- review of the Northern Territory Environmental Assessment and Approval Processes (2015)
- the NT EPA's Roadmap for a Modern Environmental Regulatory Framework for the Northern Territory (2017)
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 Northern Territory 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:
- environmental impact assessment guidelines prepared by the NT EPA between 2013 and now
- advice prepared by the NT EPA including its Recommendations Concerning Preservation of the Threatened Biodiversity of the Howard Sand Plains Site of Conservation Significance (2015)
- the NT's draft Balanced Environment Strategy
- the NT's draft Petroleum (Environment) Regulations.
The Northern Territory Government has considered information from these sources, and others, to develop proposed reforms to the assessment and approvals system.
Last updated: 17 June 2022
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