National heritage laws

The National Heritage List is a list of places with outstanding heritage value to our nation, including places overseas. These places are protected under the Australian Government's national environment law — the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

Matters of national environmental significance

National heritage is one of nine matters of national environmental significance protected by the EPBC Act.

By law, no one can take an action that is likely to have a significant impact on any of these matters without approval. There are penalties for those who do. An action includes a project, development, undertaking, an activity or series of activities.

The nine matters of national environmental significance are:

  • Australia's world heritage properties
  • national heritage places
  • wetlands of international importance (listed under the Ramsar Convention)
  • migratory species
  • listed threatened and ecological communities
  • Commonwealth marine areas
  • the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
  • nuclear actions, including uranium mining, and
  • a water resource, in relation to coal seam gas development and large coal mining development.

If you are proposing to take an action that will have, or is likely to have a significant impact on the national heritage values of a national heritage place and/or any other nationally protected matter, you must refer that action to the Australian environment minister.

The environment minister will decide whether the action requires further assessment, and if necessary approval under the EPBC Act.

Heritage public notices

Public notices under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act):

Nominating a heritage place