Frequently asked questions

What is environmental impact assessment? 

Environmental impact assessment is a formal process for evaluating the possible risks or effect on the environment of a proposed activity or development.

Common activities where a detailed environmental impact assessment process is undertaken by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) include developments within the Marine Park such as pontoons, jetties, pipelines, dredging and marinas.

What are the benefits of environmental impact assessment?

Environmental impact assessment involves compiling information to evaluate whether a permit approval or refusal should be given, based on consideration of various criteria.

Assessment criteria includes ecological, social, economic and Indigenous interests, as well as current and future use of the proposed location.

Risk management involves the systematic application of management policies, procedures and programs to identify, analyse, assess, treat and monitor risks. It also requires accepting risks and taking actions to manage, reduce, transfer or eliminate them, proportionate to the level of risk involved.

What is the process of environmental impact assessment at GBRMPA?

There are four main stages: scoping, assessment, decision and auditing/compliance.

For more information, see our Environmental Impact Management Policy. Applicants are invited to contact us at an early scoping stage to discuss their general proposal, its scale and proposed location by emailing

Applicants must also consider whether their proposal should be referred to the Commonwealth Environment Department under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.

Where granting a permit may restrict the public's reasonable use of a part of the Marine Park, we may require the applicant to publish a public notice.

What is the process for public advertising?

Where granting a permit may restrict the reasonable use of part of the Marine Park by the public (for example, for developments such as pontoons, jetties, pipelines, dredging and marinas) the agency may require the applicant to publicly advertise the proposal.

This requires the applicant to advertise the proposal in a newspaper circulating generally in that part of the Marine Park adjacent to the proposed development, and to make available information packages to the public during a defined public comment period. This gives the public the opportunity to make an informed comment on major permit applications.

We will consider these comments when making a decision on whether to grant the permit.

I am a permit applicant. What steps should I follow to conduct public advertising?

We will notify you in writing when public advertising is required. If this is a requirement, these steps need to be followed:

1. Prepare an information package for public use. It should include:

  • an introduction about the company applying for the permit
  • an overview of works to be undertaken including, if relevant, construction, works and/or operation facts and timelines
  • a description of how environmental impacts will be managed
  • maps of the proposed location, showing relevant site management arrangements (for example, zoning, settings) and if relevant, a drawing of the proposal
  • how the proposal will impact access by other users
  • frequently asked questions, relevant policies and contact details.

2. Draft a public notice advertisement (using a standard format) to be published in a local Queensland newspaper circulating in the area adjacent to the location of your proposal. Contact the newspaper to arrange a suitable publishing date (at your expense), preferably on a Saturday.

3. Submit a copy of your information package and advertisement to us for approval, at least 21 days before the intended publishing date. This package will be made available from our website and, if applicable, your own company’s website on the same day the newspaper advertisement is published.

4. On the agreed date, advertise the proposal and publish your information package on your website. The public comment period is a minimum of 30 days, but it may be extended, for example if it overlaps with a public holiday.

5. After the public comment period, we may issue a news release and/or schedule a meeting to discuss the outcome of the public comment phase.

We will advise if meetings with stakeholders are required. 

At the end of the public comment period, we will prepare a summary of submissions report which will be published on our website and provided to you.

I am a community member. How do I make a submission on an application?

The opportunity for the public to comment on a proposal is an important part of the environmental assessment process. Interested parties are invited to contact us for more information or to make a written submission about a proposal.

Projects open for public comment are posted on our website, along with details on how to make a submission.

How much does an application cost and how long does it take?

Assessment costs for an application vary. For complex developments, the developer may need to employ a consultant(s) for specialist studies.

If a permit is granted there may be additional costs associated with monitoring and supervising permit conditions. We have a policy of recovering these costs from the developer.

A major project will generally take between six months to three years for planning, assessment, construction and management. In some cases, very large projects may continue to develop over 10 years or more and require ongoing management by GBRMPA.