Environmentally Relevant Activities

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and local governments across Queensland are jointly responsible for regulating prescribed Environmentally relevant activities (ERAs).

A prescribed ERA is one that has:

  • the potential to release a contaminant into the environment when operation; and
  • the release of the contaminant will or may cause environmental harm.

Prescribed ERAs that Townsville City Council regulates are shown in the table below:

ERA Number ERA Description
6 Asphalt manufacturing > 1.000t per year
12 (1) (2) Plastic product manufacturing
19 Metal forming > 10,000t per year
20 (1) Metal recovery less than 100t of metal in a day; or
20 (2) (a) Metal recovery > 100t of metal in a day or > 1,000t in a year
38 (1) (a) Surface coating for anodising, electroplating, enameling or galvanising using 1-100t of surface coating materials a year
49 Boat maintenance or repair within 50m of a bed of naturally occurring surface waters
61 (1) Waste incineration for waste vegetation, clean paper or cardboard

For more information on local governments and ERAs, refer to the Environmentally relevant activities devolved to local government information sheet on the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection website.

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection also maintains an Environmental authorities register, which provides details about licences (environmental authorities) issued for resource activities (mining and petroleum and gas) and prescribed activities issued under the Environmental Protection Act 1994.

Licensing Requirements

All operators of prescribed ERAs regulated by local government are required to hold an environmental authority under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 and development approval under the Planning Act 2016.

Follow the steps below for guidance on how to apply for an environmental authority or development approval. A development application is taken to be an application for an environmental authority in particular circumstances (refer to section 115 of the Environmental Protection Act 1994).


On application

Application fees to submit a development application are listed in the Schedule of Fees. The development assessment fee is payable upon submission of your application. The annual fee for the prescribed ERA is payable 20 business days after the environmental authority takes effect. The take effect date can be nominated by the applicant and is the date when the prescribed ERA is to commence.

Annual fees

Annual fees are payable each year on your anniversary date (which is the date the activity was first licensed) and are based on the aggregated environmental scores (AES) for each prescribed ERA. AES was determined by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and is based on the prescribed ERA's potential environmental impact on water, the atmosphere or land. Some activities attract a higher AES than others because of their potential impact.

Refer to the Schedule of Fees for further information about your ERA's annual fee and AES.

Annual returns

At least 22 business days before each anniversary day for the environmental authority, Townsville City Council is required to give the holder an annual notice requiring the holder to pay the annual fee and to complete an annual return.

The annual return form requires you to provide some details about each activity. Please refer to the Schedule of Fees for charges relating to the annual return.

Changes to the environmental authority

Application forms for the following changes are available from council upon request.

Amending an environmental authority

Transferring environmental authorities for prescribed ERAs

If a new owner or operator takes over the prescribed ERA, the current holder of an environmental authority may apply to transfer all or part of the environmental authority to the new owner or operator. The new owner or operator must be listed on the Suitable operator register before the application transfer is submitted.

An application form must be submitted and the transfer fee must be paid. Refer to the Schedule of Fees for details on the transfer fee.

How to surrender an environmental authority

The holder may apply to surrender their environmental authority if the activity has ceased or the activity no longer involves a prescribed ERA.  An application form must be submitted to surrender the environmental authority.

Suspension of an environmental authority

The holder of an environmental authority may suspend the environmental authority at any time if they intend to cease operating the prescribed ERA for a period of time. The suspension period must be for at least one year from the next anniversary date, with a maximum of three years in total.

Further information

For further information, please phone 13 48 10 to contact the Environmental Health and Regulatory Services Team.