Environmentally Relevant Activities (ERAs)
An Environmentally Relevant Activity (ERA) is an activity that is required to be approved by either council or state government due to its potential to damage or pollute the environment (air, land, water and noise).
The Department of Environment and Science and other state government agencies regulate higher risk activities whilst local councils regulate activities with only localised environmental pollution potential.
The Environmental Protection Act 1994 places a general environmental duty on all persons to protect Queensland's environment while allowing for ecologically sustainable development. It also requires council to monitor the standard of operations in devolved ERAs.
Who needs an Environmental Authority?
The applicant for an Environmental Authority must be a legal entity e.g. a person/s or company.
Note: a business name or shop name is not a legal entity and cannot be the authority holder.
A full list of all ERAs that require an Environmental Authority can be found in Schedule 2 of the Environmental Protection Regulation 2008 – they are categorised based on their potential risk to the environment.
Before staring a business operation, ensure you have contacted council to determine if a Development Approval is required in addition to an Environmental Authority.
The following listed ERAs are those in Schedule 2 of the Environmental Protection Regulation 2008 which are required to apply for an Environmental Authority from council:
CHEMICAL, COAL AND PETROLEUM PRODUCTS ACTIVITIES (Part 2)
ERA 6: Asphalt manufacturing - Manufacturing 1000 tonnes or more of asphalt in a yea
ERA 12: Plastic product manufacturing
a. Manufacturing in a year a total of 50 tonnes or more of plastic products
b. Manufacturing in a year a total of 5 tonnes or more of foam, composite plastics or rigid fibre-reinforced plastics
FABRICATED METAL PRODUCT ACTIVITIES (Part 5)
ERA 19: Metal forming - Forming a total of 10,000 tonnes or more of metal in a year using hot processes
ERA 20: Metal recovery
a. Recovering less than 100 tonnes of metal in a day
b. Recovering 100 tonnes or more of metal in a day, or 10,000 tonnes or more of metal in a year without using a fragmentiser
MISCELLANEOUS ACTIVITIES (Part 8)
ERA 38: Surface coating -anodising, electroplating, enamelling or galvanising by using 1 to 100 tonnes of surface coating materials in a year
TRANSPORT AND MARITIME SERVICES (Part 11)
ERA 49: Boat maintenance or repair
WASTE MANAGEMENT (Part 12)
ERA 61: Waste incineration and thermal treatment of vegetation, clean paper or cardboard
Who is exempt from an Environmental Authority?
If the activity related to your business is not included in the "Who needs an Environmental Authority" list, you may still require an Environmental Authority from the Department of Environment and Science.
All businesses, regardless of requirements to hold an Environmental Authority, still have a General Environmental Duty outlined in Section 319 of the Environmental Protection Act 1994, to ensure that business activities do not have an adverse impact on the environment.
A full list of all ERAs can be found in Schedule 2 of the Environmental Protection Regulation 2008.
How to apply
To obtain an Environmental Authority to operate an ERA, the following steps need to be undertaken:
To operate an ERA you will be required to provide evidence of an appropriate Development Approval for the proposed site.
This will be assessed under the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (SPA) and the city's planning scheme. It is the ERA operators responsibility to obtain this approval with the property owner's consent. Plans may also be required for development approval.
A Development Approval is required before the ERA Suitable Operators Registration Certificate can be issued.
Once a Development Approval has been given for the activity on the proposed site, a Suitable Operators Registration Certificate can be applied for.
This registration is assessed under the Environmental Protection Act 1994. It is the ERA operator’s responsibility to obtain this registration from the Department of Environment and Science.
Follow the Application process once the Development Approval and Suitable Operators Registration Certificate have both been obtained – this documentation will be supporting evidence for your Environmental Authority application submitted to council.
How to comply
It is the responsibility of the business owner and staff to ensure compliance with all requirements of the relevant legislation.
More information is available on how council interacts with businesses below:
The tools and resources developed by council allow you and your staff to know what is required to ensure your business is operating lawfully. When used effectively, these tools will assist your business to minimise the impact on the environment and avoid enforcement action.
Legislation requires council to monitor the standard of operations in Environmentally Relevant Activities (ERA) and this is achieved through a routine inspection program. The expected frequency of these inspections will depend on the type of ERA being operated and its level of compliance.
Refer to the relevant self assessment checklist to be aware of some of the issues council will be assessing when visiting your business.
Under the Environmental Protection Act 1994, if you are the holder of a registration certificate you must comply with the conditions of the development approval for the site.
You are responsible for ensuring that all employees comply with the approval conditions.
Failure to comply with these conditions may result in one or more of the following enforcement actions:
- Issuing of a letter requiring action or works to be conducted.
- Issuing of a Legal Notice requiring action to be taken or works to be conducted.
- Issuing of a Penalty Infringement Notice (PIN or on-the-spot fine).
- Issuing of a Notice requiring an operator to conduct or commission an Environmental Evaluation.
- Issuing of a Notice requiring an operator to prepare and submit an Environmental Management Plan (EMP).
- Issuing of an Environmental Protection Order (EPO).
- Adding, changing or cancelling a development condition.
- Suspension of a Registration Certificate.
- Cancellation of a Registration Certificate.
Council has a duty to investigate and respond to complaints received.
A complaint may result in an inspection of your premises to ensure you are complying with the legislation.
You will be sent a notice prior to the expiration/anniversary of your current registration that will require your immediate attention.
If you need a copy of, or wish to amend details on your current registration, contact council.
For more information about applying for an Environmental Authority, contact council's Health and Regulatory Services team on 1300 MACKAY (622 529) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.