An assessment of significance under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) is the first step in considering potential impacts.
For developments likely to affect threatened species, populations, ecological communities or their habitats, a species impact statement is also needed. This is outlined in the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (TSC Act).
Both the assessment and the statements must be prepared:
- according to the relevant legislation
- by a project applicant or a qualified consultant working on the applicant’s behalf.
The assessment process
The assessment considers a number of factors that are looked at together to determine how likely it is that a development will have a significant impact on biodviersity.
The Threatened Species Assessment Guidelines: the assessment of significance provide more information about the process and requirements.
Section 91 licences
A section 91 licence is needed for actions that are likely to harm a threatened species, population or ecological community. This licence is also needed for actions that damage the habitat of a threatened species, population, or ecological community, including habitat critical to the survival of endangered species (critical habitat).
For information about how a section 91 licence is assessed, including the time this is likely to take, read applying for a section 91 licence.
Species impact statement
A species impact statement is needed:
- if the assessment of significance finds the development likely to affect threatened species, populations, ecological communities or their habitats
- if there is reasonable doubt about the likely impacts of a development, or where detailed information is not available.
A species impact statement can be presented by itself or included in an environmental impact statement.
A species impact statement must:
- describe the nature, extent, location, timing and layout of the proposed action or development
- describe and assess the threatened species, populations or ecological communities known or likely to be found in the area affected by the activity – this should include habitat requirements, conservation status, estimates of abundance, key threatening processes, and whether there are available threat abatement or recovery plans
- describe the location, type, size and condition of the habitats (including critical habitat) of threatened species, populations and ecological communities – this should include details of the distribution and condition of similar habitats in the area likely to be affected
- present feasible alternatives to the development or action that are likely to have a lower impact, outlining reasons for these alternative actions
- list approvals necessary under any other act or law before the action may be lawfully carried out, including existing approvals
- state the detailed qualifications and experience in threatened species conservation of the people involved in preparing the species impact statement.
For more information about the legal requirements of a species impact statement, see section 110 of the TSC Act.