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Planning and approvals

In Queensland, the protection of wetland environmental values is addressed in regulatory planning, assessment and approval mechanisms across the Commonwealth, State and Local Governments.

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Additional information

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Caloundra Photo by EHP

Quick facts

increasing population and associated urban, industrial and agricultural activities place major development pressures on wetlands. In some cases, development causes the loss or degradation of wetlands, which damages wetland habitat, introduces pollutants and nutrients, or changes the natural water regimes of wetlands.

Information is provided on key regulatory mechanisms that provide protection of wetland environmental values and where relevant terrestrial biodiversity values. The mechanisms are grouped broadly according to the type of mechanism, either planning or assessment, and the level of assessment or environmental approval. Details on how the mechanism addresses these values are provided through links to related authoritative information sources.

Regulatory planning, assessment and approval mechanisms that contribute to protecting wetlands and terrestrial biodiversity values

SPP       State Planning Policy
SDAP     State Development Assessment Provisions
MNES    Matters of National Environmental Significance
ERA       Environmentally Relevant Activity

The consideration of wetland values may be addressed in decision-making processes in different ways. Some regulatory mechanisms deal with specific environmental values (such as water quality) while others may address whole wetland systems. These different approaches can make it difficult to understand how each wetland is regulated to manage values. Legislative reform in Queensland aims to improve clarity and simplify decision-making processes such as consistent use of wetland definitions, mapping and management tools.

Legislative frameworks important to protecting wetlands and terrestrial biodiversity in Queensland include:

  • environmental licensing system (Environmental Protection Act 1994)
  • planning and development assessment system (Sustainable Planning Act 2009)
  • natural resource management legislation including the Water Act 2000, Vegetation Management Act 1999
  • protected areas and priority species  (Nature Conservation Act 1992, Marine Park Act 1992).

These frameworks recognise different levels of environmental risks and implement legislation provisions accordingly. The requirement to develop an environmental impact statement for a large mining project involving public notification is an example of a mechanism that addresses a high level of environmental risk. A landholder wishing to undertake a routine activity in way that complies with a code of practice may not require an approval, as this is an example of a low level of environmental risk. In addition to prescribed approval or compliance processes, the Environmental Protection Act 1994 establishes a general environmental duty where all persons are not to cause environmental harm. Consideration of ecologically sustainable development principles is established in environmental licensing and a number of other legislative frameworks.  The State and local planning instruments establish the decision hierarchy to ‘avoid, mitigate and offset’ environmental impacts associated with development. The Department of State Development web site explains the roles and responsibilities of the State and local governments’ roles in the planning and assessment system.


Disclaimer: While every care is taken to ensure the accuracy of this product, the Queensland Government and Australian Government make no representations or warranties about it's accuracy, reliability, completeness or suitability for any particular purpose and disclaim all responsibility and all liability (including without limitation, liability in negligence) for all expenses, losses, damages (including indirect or consequential damage) and costs which might be incurred as a consequence of reliance on the product, or as a result of the product being inaccurate or incomplete in any way and for any reason.

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Last updated: 18 November 2015

This page should be cited as:

Planning and approvals, WetlandInfo 2013, Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, Queensland, viewed 4 July 2017, <>.

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Heritage Protection