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Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Coastal Tourism - A Manual for Sustainable Development

Based on a draft paper prepared by Southern Cross University
Portfolio Marine Group, Environment Australia, 1997
ISBN 0 642 27129 1

Stage 3: Assessment & approval

see checklist 3.1

organise an effective presentation of your proposal

The purpose of this stage is to lodge a proposal that is likely to be approved, which means anticipating, as far as possible, any problems and addressing them before they fully materialise.

Note that this section of the guide does not contain information about state-specific protocols or processes. Rather, it is intended to provide you with an overview of the steps you will most likely be required to take in order to gain approval for your development. General principles to follow in preparing your submission are that:

Many developers have been frustrated by the multiplicity of agencies involved in planning and managing Australia's coastal zone. Details of the process vary from state to state, and the overlapping roles and responsibilities of all three spheres of government make coastal development a complex and confusing business, even for experienced developers. Gaining approval for apparently straightforward development proposals can involve considerable time and expense. It is essential that you are aware of the range of government agencies involved in assessing and approving coastal development, and that the cost of gaining development approvals is factored into your financial feasibility studies.

Organise an effective presentation of your proposal

Planning and development approvals will generally require, as a minimum, that you lodge a development application or proposal with the relevant local council. The application is likely to require you to reconsider many of the issues raised during the pre-application and project design stages. Some of these issues and details will already have been addressed in developing the proposal, but councils will need to see some evidence that you have addressed them in your proposal.

Environmental impact assessment: Assessment of the impact on the environment that is likely to occur as the result of change.

How much detail is required depends on the sensitivity of the site and the scale of the development. The process is also complicated wherever the site is particularly valuable for social, cultural, heritage or scientific reasons.

Certain types of development - marinas, for instance, as well as any large-scale development - may also involve undertaking an environmental impact assessment (see Box H) and gaining additional approvals from other statutory authorities, such as departments of ports and harbours. Applications to develop coastal land which is at risk from coastal flooding or erosion may also need to provide technical information showing that the development will be protected from these risks, together with an assessment of protection measures.

Box H: Environmental impact assessment
Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is aimed at protecting the environment by ensuring that development is environmentally sound and well managed. It recognises that government decision-making needs to be informed by environmental considerations and that communities want a say before governments make decisions.
EIA involves identifying the potential environmental impacts of a proposal and mitigation measures, and assessing their acceptability, and may involve a detailed study. EIA may be required by either Commonwealth or state/territory legislation, or both. The requirements of EIA vary depending on government policy and legislative requirements, but will probably consist of:
  • identification and description of the environment affected by a proposal
  • predictions of the likely changes in the environment as a result of the proposal
  • an assessment and reporting of the significance of the predicted changes, that is, whether the changes are likely to have serious biophysical environmental, health, social, aesthetic or economic implications
  • a detailed assessment report on the above as a basis for decision-making, that may include conditions to be placed on approval; this report may be referred to as an environmental impact statement.
Biophysical environmental considerations may involve an assessment of biological factors affected by the proposal (such as vegetation, wildlife, and sensitivity of ecological systems).
Environmental impact statement: A detailed written description of a proposed development and all the possible ways that it can affect the surrounding environment.
Social considerations may involve assessment of current demand and use of the area, accessibility, infrastructure requirements, employment opportunities, visual amenity, ways of life, and social carrying capacity.
Economic considerations may involve an assessment of the costs and benefits associated with the development, such as the economic base for tourism, employment opportunities, land tenure and use, and community service requirements.
Not all development proposals will require EIA. However, all proposals that are likely to affect the environment to a significant extent should require EIA.
All Commonwealth decisions that are environmentally significant are required to be designated under Commonwealth EIA legislation; this is followed by assessment of the need for and level of EIA. The environmental planning and assessment legislation for each of the states/territories indicate which proposals are likely to be subject to EIA. Anyone proposing a development that they think might require an EIA would be well advised to have early contact with the agency responsible for administering the EIA legislation relevant to the site.
For more information on environmental impact assessment see contacts below or contact the Commonwealth, state and territory practitioners listed on the Australian EIA Network on the Internet at:
Commonwealth South Australia
Environment Assessment Branch Environment Impact Assessment Branch
Environment Australia Department of Housing and Urban
Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories Development
Ph: (06) 274 1670 Ph: (08) 8207 2000
Queensland Tasmania
Planning and Assessment Section Environment Tasmania
Environmental and Planning Branch Department of Environment and
Department of Environment Land Management
Ph: (07) 3227 7111 Ph: (03) 6233 8011
Strategic Planning and Capital Works Coordination Branch
Department of Premier and Cabinet
Ph: (07) 3224 2111
New South Wales Victoria
Environment Policy and Assessment Division Chief Assessment Officer
Department of Urban Affairs and Planning Department of Infrastructure
Ph: (02) 9391 2000 Ph: (03) 9655 6666
Northern Territory Western Australia
Environment Assessment Branch Evaluation Division
Department of Lands, Planning and Environment Department of Environmental Protection
Ph: (08) 8924 4126 Ph: (08) 9222 7000

Development approval processes are open to public scrutiny and are more likely to be successful if a proactive approach towards community consultation and involvement has been adopted in the early phases of feasibility, planning and design. Formal processes of consultation are determined by relevant planning statutes, and indicate the minimum approaches that need to be undertaken. Checklist 3.1 is useful for understanding what the authorities need in order to approve your proposal.

Checklist 3.1: Is your proposal likely to be approved?

To increase the likelihood of a positive outcome:

Lodge the proposal with the relevant authority

Once you lodge the proposal, you may still be required to work further to convince the authorities of your development's value and sustainability. Be prepared to negotiate compromises to meet the social or environmental objections to the proposal and to ensure the ongoing viability of your venture.


Make your proposal comprehensive and outline the work you have undertaken in Stages 1 and 2. Be prepared for time delays and ensure that you have adequate contingency plans.