Authorisations for infrastructure in protected areas

Permitting hub

Online Services is the Department of Environment, Science and Innovation's permitting system for permits and authorities issued on Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service managed areas.

Permit and authority holders, and applicants can use Online Services to:

  • manage your authority
  • submit an application for a new authority
  • submit renewals, amendments and returns
  • access all your documents in 1 place.

Authorisation is required for installing, operating and maintaining infrastructure (including service facilities and eco-tourism facilities) in protected areas in Queensland.

Authorities may be granted under sections 34, 35 and 35a of the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (NCA) for these purposes, but only if certain legislative requirements under those sections are satisfied. Authorised activities must also be managed in accordance with legislative and policy requirements.

Under the NCA, the chief executive of the Department of Environment, Science and Innovation (DESI) can authorise certain inconsistent uses and activities on a protected area provided all the following criteria are satisfied:

  • the basic principle for the management of national parks will be observed to the greatest possible extent (if the land is in a national park)
  • the use will be in the public interest
  • the use is ecologically sustainable
  • there is no reasonable alternative to the use.

The types of infrastructure that may be authorised on a protected area include:

  • scientific and education facilities
  • electricity transmission lines and facilities
  • communication towers and facilities
  • navigation devices
  • water supply or sewerage facilities
  • eco-tourism facilities
  • oil or gas pipelines.

Any infrastructure on protected areas must be consistent with the management principles for the protected area and any management plan or statement for the area.

Environmental offsets

Under the Offsets Framework, an environmental offset may be required for certain activities (prescribed activities) that will have a significant residual impact on certain matters of national, state and local environmental significance (prescribed environmental matters) after all reasonable avoidance and mitigation measures have been taken. Within this framework, activities authorised under section 34 and 35 (NCA Authorities) are considered prescribed activities, and protected areas are considered prescribed environmental matters.

Native title

Native title will be addressed under the requirements of the Native Title Act 1993, as part of the assessment process. This may include a formal notification to the native title holders about your application, if required.

First Nations People cultural heritage

The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003 and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Heritage Act 2003 establish a duty of care that requires all land users to take all reasonable and practicable measures to ensure their activities do not harm Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander (First Nations) cultural heritage. The duty of care applies to any activity where Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage is located and regardless of whether or not it has been identified or recorded in a database or register.

Before commencing an application, applicants should search for records of significant sites in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Heritage Database and Register, managed by the Department of Treaty, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Communities and the Arts (DTATSIPCA).

If, at any time during the activity, it is necessary to excavate, relocate, remove of harm a cultural heritage find, the activity should cease immediately. You must notify the Aboriginal party for the area and seek their advice and agreement as to how this may be managed to avoid or minimise harm to the Aboriginal cultural heritage.

Visit the DTATSIPCA website for more information.

Queensland heritage

The Queensland Heritage Act 1992 provides for the conservation of Queensland's cultural heritage for the benefits of the community and future generations. Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Partnerships (QPWS&P) manages 47 Queensland heritage registered places across the state. As places identified as being of Significance to the State of Queensland, there are certain requirements that must be met before carrying out work on these places. Further details can be provided upon request.

Apply for an authority to build in protected areas

You can apply for an authority to construct, operation and/or maintain infrastructure in a protected area by:

  • submitting an application form for an authority under the Nature Conservation Act 1992
  • supplying an environment management plan
  • including a survey plan, authority plan or A4 map.

Pre-lodgement meeting

You can request a free pre-lodgement meeting to:

  • learn about the application process and time frames
  • ensure your proposed application contain adequate information
  • provide your draft supporting information for the proposed application for a general review against legislative application requirements
  • check on jurisdictions of proposed locations
  • be informed about legislative and policy constraints
  • check on required fees if applicable
  • learn about your rights under principles of natural justice.

To discuss your proposal with regional staff:


You may need to pay an annual rental and other fees:


To apply for an authority, register for Online Services or log in to Online Services if you're already registered.

How to complete the application:

  1. The application can only be submitted online using an internet connection. You cannot print and submit this form by post or email.
  2. You can save a partially completed form and submit it at a later date.
  3. Choose your authority type or choose the existing authority to action. This will dynamically change the following form questions about your proposed authority.
  4. Provide the following
    1. applicant details, including an email address
    2. details about the activities you plan to conduct, including attachments of supporting information such as maps and photographs if available.
  5. Ensure that you have appropriate insurance, where required, according to departmental policy prior to commencing the authorised activity. Read the operational policy – insurance and indemnity requirements for QPWS authorities (PDF, 227KB).
  6. Pay the relevant application and permit fees (if applicable). You can pay online using Visa or MasterCard.
  7. Your application will be submitted for assessment.

Email if you are having trouble completing the application form online.

You may apply prior to the expiry date of your existing authority to allow sufficient time to assess and progress the application.

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