Legislative requirements for permits

All proposals for development within or partly within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park must meet legislative requirements and are assessed accordingly. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's (GBRMPA) work protecting the Marine Park is guided by a range of legislation, regulations and policies.

Permit applications under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 is the primary Act in respect of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The Act and its associated regulations ensure the protection and conservation of the environment, biodiversity and heritage values Great Barrier Reef region, whilst supporting recreation, economic and cultural activities within the Marine Park.

It provides a framework for planning and permits of the Marine Park including through zoning plans, plans of management and a system of permissions.

In the case that an application may restrict reasonable use of part of the Marine Park by the public, the GBRMPA will often require the proponent to conduct public advertising and consultation on the proposal.

All proposals for development that fall within the boundaries of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park must apply for a permit, which is assessed in accordance with the Act.

Applications under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) is the Australian Government's central piece of environmental legislation.

It regulates actions that have, will have or are likely to have, a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance.

Under the EPBC Act, major development proposals are referred to the appropriate Federal Minister to determine whether the application is likely to have a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance.

If so, the proposal will require assessment by Environmental Impact Statement. The Environmental Impact Statement will need to be prepared by the proponent, who must consult with the public and stakeholders throughout the application process.

Since 25 November 2009, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is recognised as a matter of national environmental significance, which means it is protected under the EPBC Act.

Consequently, an activity will need to be referred to the federal environment minister if it is likely to have a significant impact on:

  • the environment, if the activity is within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, or
  • the environment of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park or other nationally protected matters if the activity is outside the Marine Park.

If the proposed action is in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park it may require permission under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act. If a permission is required, referral of an action under the EPBC Act is deemed to be an application under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act (see section 37AB, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act).Where assessment and approval is required under both Acts, a single integrated assessment for the purposes of both Acts will apply.

View a diagram of the process for integrated EPBC and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act referrals and assessments.