National Perspective – Response of Environmental Protection Authorities to COVID-19

    May 2020

    Introduction

    As a result of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and its associated impacts and disruption to businesses, companies and individuals may be unable to comply with Australian environmental protection laws and environmental approval conditions.

    Some regulators have provided guidance on their approach to the enforcement of environmental laws and compliance, with conditions attached to environmental licences and approvals. Some regulators have made it clear that compliance with licence conditions is expected notwithstanding the COVID-19 pandemic. Other regulators have adopted a less strict approach, indicating that a more flexible approach will be taken in respect to both enforcement and compliance action during
    this time. Other regulators are yet to take a firm position.

    The general position across all Australian jurisdictions is that environmental compliance with environmental protection laws and environmental approval conditions is expected except where a specific exemption applies, or where the regulator has exempted a particular company or person from their current environmental obligations.