Appendix C Australian guidelines on EIA

A snow petrel (Pagodroma nivea) on Bechervaise Island, on the Mawson Coast. Luke Einoder.

Legal Requirements for Initial and Comprehensive Environmental Evaluations

The Madrid Protocol requires that all activities proposed to be conducted in the Antarctic are subject to prior assessment of their impacts on the Antarctic environment and on dependent or associated ecosystems. The Antarctic Treaty (Environment Protection) Act 1980, (the AT(EP) Act) and associated Antarctic Treaty (Environmental Protection) (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 1993 (the EIA Regulations), implement this obligation and must be complied with for all activities proposed to be conducted in Australian Antarctic Territory and for all Australian activities proposed to be conducted elsewhere in the Antarctic. The EIA Regulations specify those matters which must be included in IEEs and CEEs. Relevant extracts from the EIA Regulations are set out below with references to the section of the 'Australian Guidelines for the Preparation of Initial and Comprehensive Environmental Evaluations' which provide practical guidance on meeting each of the legal requirements.

General Requirements

In accordance with the requirements of the Madrid Protocol, the AT(EP) Act requires the proponent of each activity to undertake a preliminary assessment of the impact that the activity is likely to have on the environment [Section 12D of the AT(EP) Act]. These preliminary assessments are used by the Minister's delegate as the basis for making a determination regarding the significance of the likely environmental impacts and hence the need or otherwise for a higher level of assessment [Section 12E of the Act].

If the Minister's delegate determines that an activity is likely to have a minor or transitory impact on the environment then an Initial Environmental Evaluation (IEE) will be directed [Section 12G of the Act]. Similarly, if it is determined that more than a minor or transitory impact is likely then preparation of a Comprehensive Environmental Evaluation (CEE) will be required [Sections 12E and 12H].

Required contents of an IEE

Sub-section 12G(2) of the AT(EP) Act requires that an IEE in respect of an activity is a written report which:

  1. contains (but is not limited to) the matters that under the [EIA] regulations are required to be included in the evaluation; and
  2. assesses the impact that the activity is likely to have on the environment in a manner that allows for a reasoned conclusion to be reached whether the activity is to have:
    1. a minor or transitory impact; or
    2. more than a minor or transitory impact on the environment; and
  3. if the assessment indicates that the impact on the environment is likely to be minor or transitory - makes recommendations as to the measures considered necessary for assessing and verifying any impact on the environment.

Regulation 6 of the EIA Regulations specifies that for the purposes of paragraph 12G(2)(a) of the Act, an IEE for an activity must include:

  1. a description of the activity, including a statement of:
    1. the purpose; and
    2. the location; and
    3. the duration; and
    4. the intensity;

    of the activity [see Section 3.2 of the Australian Guidelines for practical guidance on meeting this requirement]; and

  2. a description of possible alternatives to the activity, including the alternative of not carrying on the activity [see Section 3.6 of the Guidelines]; and
  3. a description of the consequences of each possible alternative to the activity [see Section 3.6 of the Guidelines]; and
  4. a description of the environmental reference state with which predicted changes are to be compared [see Section 3.3 of the Guidelines]; and
  5. a prediction of the future environmental reference state if the activity does not take place [see Section 3.3 of the Guidelines]; and
  6. an estimation of the nature, extent, duration and intensity of the likely direct impacts of the activity [see Section 3.5 of the Guidelines]; and
  7. consideration of possible indirect impacts of the activity [see Section 3.5 of the Guidelines]; and
  8. consideration of the cumulative impacts of the activity in the context of other activities in the same area that are planned, in progress, or reasonably foreseeable when the evaluation is being prepared [see Section 3.5 of the Guidelines]; and
  9. consideration of the effects of the activity on scientific research and other uses and values, including historic values, of the areas that will be affected by the activity [see Section 3.5 of the Guidelines]; and
  10. identification of unavoidable impacts of the activity [see Section 3.5 of the Guidelines]; and
  11. a description of the methods and data used to forecast the impacts of the activity [see Section 3.4 of the Guidelines]; and
  12. identification of uncertainties and lack of knowledge relevant to preparation of the evaluation [see Section 3.4 of the Guidelines]; and
  13. identification of measures, including monitoring programs, that are proposed to be taken to:
    1. minimise or mitigate impacts of the activity [see Section 3.7 of the Guidelines]; and
    2. detect impacts of the activity that were not predicted in the evaluation [see Section 3.8 of the Guidelines]; and
    3. provide early warning of adverse effects of the activity [see Section 3.8 of the Guidelines]; and
    4. deal promptly and effectively with accidents [see Section 3.7 of the Guidelines]; and
  14. a description of:
    1. consultation of persons and organisations, other than the proponent of the activity, during preparation of the evaluation; and
    2. the comments received from persons consulted; and
    3. how the matters raised during consultation have been addressed [see Section 3.12 of the Guidelines]; and
  15. a summary, in language that is not technical, of the information described in paragraphs (a) to (n) inclusive [see Section 3.1 of the Guidelines]; and
  16. a statement of the arrangements that will be made to report to the Minister the results of the monitoring [see Section 3.8 of the Guidelines]; and
  17. the name and address of the person who prepared the evaluation [see Section 3.11 of the Guidelines].

Required contents of a CEE

Sub-section 12K(2) of the Antarctic Treaty (Environment Protection) Act 1980 requires that a draft CEE and a final CEE are reports that each:

  1. contain (but are not limited to) the matters that under the [EIA] regulations are to be included in an evaluation of that kind; and
  2. make a comprehensive assessment of the impact that the activity is likely to have on the environment; and
  3. make recommendations as to the measures (if any) considered necessary for assessing and verifying any impact on the environment.

Draft CEEs

Regulation 8 of the EIA Regulations specifies that for the purposes of paragraph 12K(2)(a) of the Act, a draft CEE for an activity must include:

  1. a detailed description of the activity, including a statement of:
    1. the purpose; and
    2. the location; and
    3. the duration; and
    4. the intensity;

    of the activity [see Section 3.2 of the Australian Guidelines for practical guidance on meeting this requirement]; and

  2. a detailed description of possible alternatives to the activity, including the alternative of not carrying on the activity [see Section 3.6 of the Guidelines]; and
  3. a detailed description of the consequences of each possible alternative to the activity [see Section 3.6 of the Guidelines]; and
  4. a detailed description of the environmental reference state with which predicted changes are to be compared [see Section 3.3 of the Guidelines]; and
  5. a prediction of the future environmental reference state if the activity does not take place [see Section 3.3 of the Guidelines]; and
  6. an estimation of the nature, extent, duration and intensity of the likely direct impacts of the activity [see Section 3.5 of the Guidelines]; and
  7. detailed consideration of possible indirect impacts of the activity [see Section 3.5 of the Guidelines]; and
  8. detailed consideration of the cumulative impacts of the activity in the context of other activities in the same area that are planned, in progress, or reasonably foreseeable when the evaluation is being prepared [see Section 3.5 of the Guidelines]; and
  9. detailed consideration of the effects of the activity on scientific research and other uses and values, including historic values, of the areas that will be affected by the activity [see Section 3.5 of the Guidelines]; and
  10. identification of unavoidable impacts of the activity [see Section 3.5 of the Guidelines]; and
  11. a detailed description of the methods and data used to forecast the impacts of the activity [see Section 3.4 of the Guidelines]; and
  12. identification of uncertainties and lack of knowledge relevant to preparation of the evaluation [see Section 3.4 of the Guidelines]; and
  13. identification of measures, including monitoring programs, that are proposed to be taken:
    1. to minimise or mitigate impacts of the activity [see Section 3.7 of the Guidelines]; and
    2. detect impacts of the activity that were not predicted in the evaluation [see Section 3.8 of the Guidelines]; and
    3. to provide early warning of adverse effects of the activity [see Section 3.8 of the Guidelines]; and
    4. to deal promptly and effectively with accidents [see Section 3.7 of the Guidelines]; and
  14. a summary, in language that is not technical, of the information described in paragraphs (a) to (m) inclusive [see Section 3.1 of the Guidelines]; and
  15. a statement of the arrangements that will be made to report to the Minister the results of the monitoring [see Section 3.8 of the Guidelines]; and
  16. the name and address of the person who prepared the evaluation [see Section 3.11 of the Guidelines]; and
  17. the address to which comments on the draft should be sent [see Section 3.11 of the Guidelines].

Final CEEs

Regulation 12 of the EIA Regulations specifies that for the purposes of paragraph 12K(2)(a) of the Act, a final CEE in respect of an activity must include:

  1. information required by regulation 8 to be included in a draft comprehensive environmental evaluation; and
  2. if the Minister has forwarded comments to the proponent under regulation 11 - the text or a summary of the comments, and material responding to them." [see Section 3.11 of the Australian Guidelines for practical guidance on meeting this requirement]
This page was last modified on 12 August 2010.