Environmental impact assessment process


To apply for a permission you need to submit an application form to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA). All assessments are considered against assessment criteria specified in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983, and relevant policies and guidelines.


Assessment fees vary from several hundred dollars to fairly significant amounts. Project assessments may take four months (for standard proposals) to between six months and three years for more complex projects.

Environmental impact assessment

GBRMPA has a transparent and rigorous environmental impact assessment process to evaluate the possible risks or effects on the environment of a proposed activity or development.

This is in line with our Environmental Impact Management Policy and risk assessment guidelines.

This means proposed developments undergo thorough consultation, planning and evaluation of alternatives, and can involve extensive negotiation.

Assessing and managing proposals can also require considerable time and money.

Management tools

Environmental management plan

Through the permit assessment process, the permittee may be required to develop an environmental management plan which outlines the proposed activity, its possible impacts on the Marine Park, and specifies strategies to minimise potential impacts.

The plan is developed in close consultation with the assessing officer and modified as the project progresses during the assessment phase. Once finalised, the document is approved by the managing agencies and used on site by the permittee, staff and contractors.

The applicant may choose to engage a professional consultant to develop the environmental management plan.


Once a permit is issued, depending on the type and scale of the proposed activity, it is likely to be subject to a deed of agreement signed by the director of the company and/or the lodgement of a bond (a bank guarantee or cash) to cover the risks associated with the proposed activity.

Applications for permissions considered to be Level 2,3, and 4 risk may require the permittee to provide a security via a bond, guarantee or cash deposit.

Permittees who are required to lodge a bond may need to enter into a deed of agreement with GBRMPA.

Insurance requirements

You should not rely on GBRMPA's insurance requirements under the deed of agreement to guide you on what is sufficient insurance for your operation.

It is best to seek independent insurance advice on the level and type of cover appropriate for your specific operation and associated activities.

Environmental site supervision

Environmental site supervision is essential to managing projects that have the capacity to have significantly impact on the Marine Park and its users.

It is also used to enable flexibility with certain activities (for example, allowing filming or activities at a sensitive location in the presence of a nominated site supervisor).

You may incur environmental site supervision fees for cost recovery purposes. As a guide, costs may consist of:

  • airfares, accommodation and travel allowance
  • transport to and from the site to be inspected (for example, by boat or helicopter)

The current daily rate is based on a 7.5 hour day and is set at $354/day.

Where possible the cheapest fares and base accommodation will be sought, subject to availability and time frames of your activity. Alternatively, the applicant can organise this for the environmental site supervisor.

Where possible, the environmental site supervisor will use existing transfers provided by the applicant (for example ferry, reef transfer) to save costs.

Partnership approach

We work closely with the Queensland Government, Commonwealth departments and a range of industry (tourism, ports, fishing), scientists and community groups.

The agency has a long history of environmental impact assessment and our approach has been adapted over time through feedback from scientists, managers and the community. Your questions or comments on our process are welcome.

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