Minister's direction

After receiving the EPA's recommendation, the Minister for the Environment will make a direction.

The Minister for the Environment will make a decision on whether to direct the matter to a board of inquiry or the Environment Court, or to the local authority, after receiving the EPA's recommendation.

If the Minister does not refer a matter, we will send it to the relevant local authority who are responsible for dealing with it in the usual manner.

Referral to a board of inquiry or the Environment Court

When deciding whether a matter is of national significance, the Minister has regard to any relevant factors. The Minister must consider the applicant's views and the local authority, the capacity of the local authority to process the matter, and any recommendations from the EPA.

The Minister's direction must include the reasons for directing the matter to a board of inquiry or the Environment Court. Once the Minister has made a direction, The EPA will then provide notice of the direction to the applicant and the relevant local authorities.

The EPA will then be able to publicly notify the Minister’s direction and invite submissions on the matter. The notice will state the reasons for the Minister’s direction, where information can be viewed and when submissions on the proposal close.

Submissions must be lodged with the EPA within 20 working days after the date of public notification. Any person can make a submission on a matter that has been directed to a board of inquiry or the Environment Court, whether or not the person made a submission to the local authority.

Read more about submissions

If the Minister does not direct a matter to a board of inquiry or the Environment Court, we will notify the applicant and direct the relevant local authority to deal with the matter. We will provide the local authority with the matter and all relevant material that we received.

Board of inquiry

A board is appointed by the Minister, but makes its decision independently of the Minister. A board must hold a hearing unless it considers this unnecessary and the applicant and submitters have indicated that they do not wish to be heard.
If a hearing is held, the applicant and any submitter will have a right to be heard and the board may permit cross-examination.

Read more about Boards of inquiry

Read more about hearings

Environment Court

The Minister can direct a matter to the Environment Court for consideration and a decision.
The nine month timeframe for deciding a matter does not apply to the Environment Court. The final decision of the Court can only be appealed on points of law.
The EPA must provide the Court with all relevant material gathered, including any submissions. We then have no further formal involvement in the process.

Go to the Environment Court website

See applications referred to the Environment Court