Alert: Queensland environmental compliance update

Apr 2020 | Energy & Resources Planning & Environment

The Department of Environment and Science (DES) has released an important update about how they are managing compliance with environmental obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The DES are alert to the difficulties faced by many industries in circumstances where all companies and individuals must comply with directives of Queensland’s Chief Health Officer.

Whilst the requirements regarding appropriate licensing and obligations related to the general environmental duty remain, the DES will specifically consider an operator’s circumstances when exercising its usual discretion in taking enforcement action.

If your organisation has identified that it may be unable to comply with an environmental authority as a result of COVID-19, we recommend completing the COVID-19 related compliance issue notification form (COVID-19 Compliance Form) (available on the DES’ website) and emailing it to

It is important to note that you will be required to explain how the potential non-compliance is linked to a COVID-19 directive from the Chief Health Officer. For example, the consultant that usually undertakes groundwater sampling is located in NSW and cannot travel to Queensland.

The DES will not take enforcement action in circumstances where an environmental authority holder is able to demonstrate satisfactorily that:

  1. It will be unable to comply with an environmental authority condition because of a direction of the Chief Health Officer; and
  2. It will otherwise take and has taken all reasonable and practicable measures to prevent environmental impacts.

If you have any questions regarding the COVID-19 Compliance Form, or your environmental obligations more broadly, please contact Carter Newell's dedicated environment team at


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