EPBC Act regarding heritage values on Commonwealth Land

CSIRO is subject to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) which includes provisions to ensure the identification, conservation and protection of Australia’s unique heritage assets at a Commonwealth or National level.

The EPBC Act and associated procedures endeavours to protect heritage values on Commonwealth land. It lays down the rules and procedures that all Commonwealth agencies must follow to manage and protect heritage value on land they own, lease or control. Accordingly, all properties with heritage values owned or controlled by CSIRO must be managed in accordance with the EPBC Act.

How does the EPBC Act protect Heritage?

Heritage Lists

Firstly, the EPBC Act establishes three heritage lists for places that have been identified as having heritage significance.

The three lists comprise the:

  • World Heritage List – catalogues all places of universal value.
  • National Heritage List – records all places of outstanding national significance.
  • Commonwealth Heritage List – includes places which possess 'Commonwealth Heritage values' and which are managed or owned by the Commonwealth.

Places on one of these lists mean that the asset is protected under the EPBC Act and that any proposed actions impacting on the asset will require referral to the Minister for Environment for assessment and approval. 

Controlling significant impacts on heritage values

The second way the EPBC Act protects heritage is through establishing a process to control the significant impacts on heritage values.  The controlling provision of the EPBC Act are: 

  • Section 26: Requirement for approval of activities involving Commonwealth land: and
  • Section 28: Requirement for approval of activities undertaken by Commonwealth Agencies
  • Section 341ZC: Minimising adverse impacts on Commonwealth Heritage values. This section of the Act requires that a Commonwealth agency must not take an action that has, will have or is likely to have an adverse impact on the National Heritage values of a National Heritage place or on the Commonwealth Heritage values of a Commonwealth Heritage place, unless, a) there is no feasible and prudent alternative to take and the action and b) all measures that can reasonably be taken to mitigate the impact of the action of those values are taken.

Note: If a significant impact on heritage values cannot be minimised or avoided, the proposal needs to be referred to the Minister for Environment and the Minister will decide whether the proposal is a controlled action or not a controlled action. A ‘controlled action’ is an action that requires the Minister’s consent.  If the proposal is a ‘controlled action’ then the Minister may request further assessments or other actions to be prepared.

Controlled actions might include such things as the modification of a heritage building, subdivision of a heritage property or the disposal of a heritage property or asset.

A controlled action can only be undertaken after approval from the Minister for Environment has been obtained.  Approval will only be given by the Minister after the full assessment of the likely impacts of the proposed action.

Where can I find out more information?

For more information on the EPBC Act or Australian Heritage, please visit the Australian Government Department of the Environment .

If you wish to discuss CSIRO’s heritage strategy or places of significance further, please contact the following:

    • Steve Edwards

      Deputy General Manager · Business & Infrastructure Services

      • Phone:
        • +61 2 6276 6453

      Email: Steven.Edwards@csiro.au

    • Irene Ford

      Manager - Property Administration · Business & Infrastructure Services

      • Phone:
        • +61 2 6276 6488

      Email: Irene.Ford@csiro.au


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