Changes to EPBC Cost Recovery Fees

On 1 October 2016, new changes to the EPBC Act cost recovery fees came into effect. Cost recovery fees were introduced two years ago in line with the Australia Government’s Cost Recovery Guidelines which establishes that those who create the need for regulation should incur the costs, rather than the costs being borne by the wider community.  A recent review of departmental processes identified that efficiency gains should result in a reduction of fees for a number of activities1.

The diagram below shows the overall phases of the environmental impact assessment process followed under the EPBC Act.

epbc_process

 epbc_process_index_bubble The Referral phase is subject to a flat fee of $6,577 (down from $7,352). Any project which is likely to have or will have a significant impact on one or more Matters of National Environment Significance (MNES) must go through this phase.
 epbc_process_index_bubble Unless the outcome of the Referral phase is that the proposed action is not a controlled action then the next step is the Assessment phase.

The Assessment phase can follow one of six methods depending on the scale, complexity and potential impacts of a proposed project; these are:

  • Assessment on referral information (ARI)
  • Assessment on preliminary documentation (PD)
  • Assessment by Public Environment Report (PER)
  • Assessment by Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
  • Assessment under bilateral agreement or accredited assessment process
  • Assessment by public inquiry

Each method attracts a different Base Fee as well as a Complexity Fee which will be calculated on the basis of the number of MNES involved and the complexity of the potential impacts to them. The Base Fees are:

  • ARI – $8,964  (down from $9,417)
  • PD – $8,010 (down from $8,660)
  • PER or EIS – $25,583 (down from $30,202)
  • Bilateral agreement or accredited assessment process – $18,146 (down from $26,042)

The Cost Recovery Implementation Statement 2016-17 contains a matrix of the complexity fee calculations. As an example, a moderate complexity fee of $6,742 is applied in the case of:

  • 1-5 threatened species or ecological communities require assessment AND
  • all the impacts are well understood AND
  • available mitigation options for all impacts are well understood.

At the other end of the scale, a very high complexity fee of $48,931 applies when:

  • 15 or more than species or ecological communities require assessment OR
  • the impacts to 7 or more species or ecological communities are not well understood OR
  • available mitigation options for the impacts to 7 or more species or ecological communities are not well understood.

Fees for assessment by public inquiry or by strategic assessment will be determined by the Minister on a case by case basis, in consultation with the person taking the action or the person responsible for the policy, plan or program, as applicable.2

 epbc_process_index_bubble There are no fees associated with the Approval phase.
 epbc_process_index_bubble A contingent fee of $2,690 applies for the evaluation of a new Action Management Plan.

Contingent fees also apply for example for requests for additional information or the evaluation of variations to the proposed action or conditions, etc.

For more information, you can visit the EPBC website links provided in the article or for a quicker answer to any questions, feel free to contact us. It’s free.

  1. Fact Sheet “What are the key changes to cost recovery for environmental assessments under the EPBC Act?”, Australian Government, Department of the Environment and Energy, Oct 2016, https://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/cost-recovery, accessed 03/11/2016
  2. Fact Sheet “Overview of Cost Recovery – Frequently Asked Questions”, Australian Government, Department of the Environment and Energy, Oct 2016, https://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/cost-recovery, accessed 03/11/2016

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s