Environmentally Relevant Activities

The Department of Environment and Science (DES) 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; and
  • the release of the contaminant will or may cause environmental harm.

DES has devolved certain prescribed ERAs to Townsville City Council, as 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
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

For more information on local governments and ERAs, refer to Environmental Protection Regulation 2019.

DES 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

The environmental authority application fees are listed in the Environmental Protection Regulation 2019. If a development approval is required, application fees to submit a development application are listed in the Schedule of Fees and Charges. 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 is determined by DES 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.

The annual fee is described in the Environmental Protection Regulation 2019.

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. This must be returned with payment to Council before the anniversary date.

If the payment of annual fees is not received by the anniversary date, a late payment fee will be charged, as per the Environmental Protection Regulation 2019.

An Environmental Health Officer will undertake an inspection of the environmental authority at this time.

Changes to the environmental authority

The environmental authority fees for these changes are set by DES, but are payable to Council. For information about these fees, refer to the DES website.

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.

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.

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. Annual fees will not be payable during the suspension period.


If non-compliance of environmental authority conditions is noted during an inspection, the following enforcement options may occur:

  • an advisory letter
  • a direction notice
  • cancelling or suspending the environmental authority
  • an environmental protection order
  • transitional environmental program.

More information

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