Environment Law in the Northern Territory

Requirements for permits or approvals

Overview

Under both the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act and the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 there are legal requirements to apply for approval before certain activities that may affect biodiversity conservation can be lawfully undertaken.

Northern Territory requirements

The Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act requires that any person who wants to undertake certain activities must apply for, and be granted, a permit.  The restricted activities are:[i]

  • taking or interfering with protected wildlife (Take means: in relation to an animal – to hunt, catch, restrain or kill, or attempt or assist to hunt, catch, restrain or kill, the animal; and in relation to a plant – to sever, remove, damage or destroy, or assist to sever, remove, damage or destroy, the plant);
  • taking or interfering with wildlife for commercial purposes;
  • keeping protected wildlife;
  • bringing protected wildlife into, releasing protected wildlife in, or taking protected wildlife out of, the Northern Territory; or
  • bringing non-indigenous vertebrates or other declared prohibited entrants into, keeping them in, or taking them out of, the Northern Territory.

The Director of the Parks and Wildlife Commission may grant or refuse to grant a permit having considered and taken into account:[ii]

  • the classification of wildlife;
  • the principles of management (read our Fact Sheet on Management obligations for biodiversity conservation);
  • all relevant management programs, co-operative management agreements, declarations of areas of essential habitat and agreements;
  • the likely effect (and in particular any detrimental impact) of the issue of a permit on the continued survival of wildlife, habitats, vegetation and ecosystems and on the landscape and the environment generally;
  • in the case of a permit relating to prohibited entrants – matters relating to the retrieval, capture, disposal or destruction of an escaped prohibited entrant;
  • the welfare of the animal or animals to which the permit relates; and
  • the protection of the safety and welfare of the public.

Importantly, the Director of the Parks and Wildlife Commission must not grant a permit authorising:

  • an activity that is inconsistent with the objectives of a management program; or
  • the taking of or interference with wildlife that is threatened wildlife (unless the Minister gives his or her written approval).

The Director of the Parks and Wildlife Commission must not grant a permit to a person if the person, or a nominee specified by the person in the permit application, has been found guilty of an offence relating to wildlife within the 5-year period immediately before the person applies for the permit.

A permit can  impose conditions upon the activities, including, for example, conditions that relate to:

  • the manner in which an animal or plant may be taken or otherwise interfered with under the permit;
  • the manner in which an animal or plant is to be kept or transported under the permit;
  • the maximum number or amount of an animal or plant, or part of an animal or plant, to which the permit relates;
  • the species, sex, age, size, location of the animal or plant to which the permit relates;
  • the furnishing to the Director of returns and reports;
  • the period or periods of time during which, or the hours each day when, the permit is in force and the date of expiration of the permit;
  • the welfare of animals; and
  • the protection of the safety and welfare of the public.

Permit holders or people named in the permit must comply with the conditions of the permit.[iii]

Permits (or duplicates) must be in the possession of the person undertaking the activity at all times and must be shown to an officer of the Parks and Wildlife Commission, or honorary conservation officer, upon request.[iv] Permits can be cancelled and varied.[v]  A relevant ground for cancellation is if information becomes available that indicates a new threat to, or any other new adverse circumstance in relation to, the survival of wildlife or habitats, vegetation, ecosystems, the landscape or the environment generally (whether or not that will or has caused the classification of the wildlife to be varied) to which the permit relates.[vi]

In all cases, a permit holder can only enter land to undertake the permitted activity if they have:

  • the consent of the owner or the occupier of the land or
  • in the case of unalienated Crown land, the Minister responsible for the administration of the Crown Lands Act.

Commonwealth approvals

Nationally-listed threatened species and ecological communities are protected under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.  Actions which are likely to have a significant impact on listed threatened species and communities, listed migratory species and other matters of national environmental significance must be referred to the Commonwealth Minister for Environment for assessment and approval.  For information about the legal approval process, and rights to participate and make submissions, please read our Fact Sheet on Commonwealth environmental impact assessment.

CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. CITES is enforceable under Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.  If you suspect illegal wildlife trade activities, you can report them to the Australian Government Department of Environment.


[i] s55(1) Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act

[ii] s56 Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act

[iii] s57(3) Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act

[iv] s57(2) Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act

[v] s58, s59 Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act

[vi] s59(c) Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act