Australian Business Number


Australian Company Number

Ancillary developments

Minor developments that would ordinarily be associated with the action (for example the provision of utilities)

Avoidance area

Any area or habitat within the project area that is intended not to be cleared or disturbed during the course of the project action. The avoidance area differs from the retention area in that the avoidance area may not be intended for conservation and protection under a conservation agreement.

Buffer area

An area of prescribed width beyond your immediate search or impact area used to accommodate uncertainty regarding the extent of the action or impact. When considering the size of buffer to be used and/or shown on a map you should consider how big the feature needs to be on the map in order to see and understand its details.

Further information is contained in the Guidance: Mapping guidelines

Commonwealth Heritage List

A heritage register established in 2003, which lists places under the control of the Australian government on land or in waters directly owned by the Crown (in Australia, the Crown in right of the Commonwealth of Australia).

Constitutional corporation

Constitutional corporations are either ‘foreign corporations’ or ‘trading or financial corporations formed within the limits of the Commonwealth’ (Definition: Fair Work Act 2009).

Controlled action

A controlled action is an action that is likely to have a significant impact on a Part 3 protected matter.

Credit note

An accounting authorisation instrument issued by the department to cancel or reduce an amount invoiced to a customer.

Directly impacted

Impacts that directly result from the primary action. Examples include clearing an endangered ecological community, killing a threatened fauna species and undertaking earthworks in a Ramsar wetland.

Disturbance footprint

Disturbance footprint is the physical extent of a temporary change in environmental conditions that causes a pronounced change in the ecosystem. In the administration of the EPBC Act, this term is used to describe the physical extent of the impact of a proposed action on the natural environment of the site.

Ecological communities

A group of native plants, animals and other organisms that naturally occur together and interact in a unique habitat. An ecological community’s (EC) structure, composition and distribution are determined by environmental factors such as soil type, position within the landscape/seascape (e.g. altitude/depth), climate, and water availability, chemistry and movement (e.g. oceanic currents). Species within each ecological community interact with and depend on each other—for example, for food or shelter.

Listed ecological communities include grasslands, woodlands, shrublands, forests, wetlands, marine, ground springs and cave communities.

Currently listed EPBC Act Threatened Ecological Communities (TECs) can be found on the Species Profile and Threats Database (SPRAT).


A dynamic complex of plantanimal and micro-organism communities and their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit.

Facilitated third-party action

Facilitated impacts are consequences of actions taken by third parties (also known as secondary persons), where the third-party action is facilitated to a major extent by the primary action, and the impacts of the third-party action could be reasonably foreseen. For example, when constructing a dam to facilitate the use of water by irrigators, the associated impact of the irrigators’ water consumption on water quality or the aquatic environment could be called a facilitated impact.

Indirectly impacted

Are the ‘indirect consequences’ of an action including:

  • off-site impacts including, but not limited to:
  • downstream impacts (such as impacts on wetlands from chemicals discharged into upstream river systems); or
  • upstream impacts (such as the extraction of raw materials which are used to undertake the action),
  • actions taken by third parties, where the third party action is facilitated to a major extent by the primary action and the impacts of the third party action were reasonably foreseeable (as set out in sub-section 527E(2) of the EPBC Act).

Further information and examples are contained in the Significant Impact Guidelines (Policy Statement 1.1) and the  Policy Statement ‘Indirect consequences’ of an action: Section 527E of the EPBC Act.


The approvals and assessment processes under the EPBC Act operate in response to a referral by a ‘person’ proposing to take an action. A person may be an individual or a body corporate (e.g. a company or incorporated association). An individual (e.g. Bob Smith) may clearly be a ‘person’ proposing to take an action. More than one person (e.g. Bob Smith and Jane Smith) may also be a ‘person’ jointly proposing to take an action.

Further information is contained in the Policy Statement: Change of person proposing to take an action; Change of proponent; Transfer of approvals: Sections 78(5), 145B and 156F of the EPBC Act

Industry type

A classification of a business or organisation on the basis of its primary function or objective.

Larger project action

An action comprised of two or more smaller actions that are co-dependent and such additional actions must be taken before or after the referred action for it to be viable.

Further information is contained in the Policy Statement: Staged Developmnents—Split referrals.

Level of Confidence

A rating of the currency, accuracy and reliability of the source of information:

  • High: primary data collected within 2 years; full compliance with departmental guidelines; authors professionally qualified and experienced in directly relevant discipline; directly commissioned data; peer reviewed scientific journal article
  • Medium: primary data 2 to 5 years old; authors professionally qualified or experienced in related discipline; partial compliance with departmental guidelines; data collected for other purposes; broadsheet print or broadcast media
  • Low: primary data greater than 5 years old; collected independent of departmental guidelines; authors unqualified, or experienced or qualified in unrelated discipline; tabloid print or social media; anecdotal; word of mouth; citizen science

Matters of national environmental significance

Means nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities, wetlands and heritage places protected under the EPBC Act.

Further information on Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES) can be found here.

Person proposing to take the action (PPA)

This is the individual, government agency or company that will be principally responsible for, or who will carry out, the proposed action. It may be a trustee (either being an individual or a body corporate) acting on behalf of the trust for which they have responsibility (but not the trust).

If the proposed action will be taken under a contract or other arrangement, this is:

  • the person for whose benefit the action will be taken; or
  • the person who procured the contract or other arrangement and who will have principal control and responsibility for the taking of the proposed action.

If further assessment and approval for the action is required, any approval which may be granted will be issued to the person proposing to take the action. This person will be responsible for complying with any conditions attached to the approval.

Project area

Project area, for an action, means the area where the action is proposed to take place

Proposed designated proponent (PDP)

This is the person responsible for fulfilling the requirements of assessment for the proposed action, following a referral decision. The Proposed designated proponent can make decisions on behalf of the person proposing the action (the Proponent). They must be nominated by the Proponent to act for them in relation to fulfilling all requirements of the assessment. The Proposed designated Proponent can also be the same as the Proponent.

Proposing alternatives

Any ways the action has been considered to proceed and including the option of not proceeding with the action.  These include different locations, timeframes and methods or activities to undertake the action.  Descriptions should include those identified in the application and those which are feasible but are not proposed.

Protected Matters Search Tool

The Protected Matters Search Tool was designed to assist members of the public in searching for matters protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) 

Referring party (RP)

The referring party is the person who is completing and lodging this form. This might be your environmental consultants or someone else who is helping you to prepare and complete your referral.

Remnant native vegetation

Natural vegetation (trees, shrubs, grasses) that still exists or, if the natural vegetation has been altered, is still representative of the structure and florisitics of the natural vegetation

Sensitive information

Information that is confidential or that may endanger a species or site of environmental significance if disclosed. This may include, but is not limited to:

  • the precise location of protected matters, including artefact locations and sensitive areas
  • personally private, sensitive or culturally sensitive areas or information (such as third party names and contact details, traditional owners names, indigenous people/groups names).
  • Commercially sensitive or commercial-in-confidence information

The department may seek evidence of consent where you seek to publish sensitive information.

Significant impact

An impact which is important, notable, or of consequence, having regard to its context or intensity. Whether or not an action is likely to have a significant impact depends upon the sensitivity, value, and quality of the environment, which is impacted, and upon the intensity, duration, magnitude and geographic extent of the impacts. You should consider all of these factors when determining whether an action is likely to have a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance

Small business

From 1 July 2016, you are a small business if you are a sole trader, partnership, company or trust that:

  • operates a business for all or part of the income year, and
  • has a turnover less than $10 million (the turnover threshold).

Split referrals

Where a referred action is part of a larger action that: has not been referred; has been referred in separate ‘lesser referrals’ for commercial or other operational reasons; and will be conducted in progressive stages (also known as ‘staged developments’).

Further information is contained in the Policy Statement: Staged Developments—Split referrals.

Staged developments

Where a proposed action will be conducted in progressive stages

Types of tenure

The manner in which a party holds or has the right to use and occupy an area of land. In Australia this is typically either Freehold land (including forms held by traditional owner groups); or Non-freehold land (Crown land), which may either be leased or licensed. Tenures include but are not limited to minerals, petroleum and mining leases; pastoral leases; Aboriginal freehold land; Native title; Sacred sites and others. Tenure can be held exclusively, alongside or overlapping other types of land tenure.

Waiver/Apply for a waiver

There are two ways a waiver of a fee can occur:

  • a person may request a waiver before or at the time of making a referral or within 10 business days of a deemed referral
  • at any time on the Minister’s own initiative.

The Minister may waive all or part of a fee that would otherwise be payable under division 5.6 of the Regulation, in particular circumstances.

The Minister may waive all or part of a fee only if the Minister considers:

  • the primary objective of the action is to protect the environment, or protect and conserve heritage in a way that is consistent with the objects of the EPBC Act
  • It is in the public interest to do so, or
  • There are other exceptional circumstances justifying the waiver.

A fee may be waived at the Minister’s own initiative, or on the application of a person proposing to take an action. The EPBC Regulations describe the process following the application for a waiver of fee. An application must be made on or before the date of submitting a referral or within 10 business days of a deemed referral.