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Protection of wetlands in Great Barrier Reef catchments from effects of earthworks

The Queensland Government is committed to the statutory protection of wetlands in catchments adjoining the Great Barrier Reef lagoon. The State Development Assessment Provisions (SDAP Module 11: Wetland Protection and Wild Rivers (PDF)) seeks to ensure that development is planned, designed, constructed and operated so as to not cause harm to the hydrology of wetlands in wetland protection areas (WPA wetland) that protect matters of national and state environmental significance including the outstanding universal values of the Great Barrier Reef. See more about State Development Assessment Provisions. SDAP Module 11 replaces the State Planning Policy 4/11: Protecting of Wetlands of High Ecological Significance in Great Barrier Reef Catchments (see availability).

Protection of WPA wetlands is designed to maintain the ecological processes of these wetlands which reduce nutrient, pesticide and sediment loads in the reef catchments—and importantly protect them from the effects of high impact earthworks. Wetland protection areas are shown on the map of referable wetlands and include a wetland surrounded by a 100 metre (m) trigger area within urban areas and a 500m trigger area within rural areas.

Concurrence agency and assessment management

The Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning (DILGP) is an assessment manager or referral agency for a development application for material change of use, reconfiguring a lot or operational works involving high impact earthworks (as defined in the Sustainable Planning Regulation 2009) in wetland protection areas. High impact earthworks include the construction of new drains, placing of fill or construction of levies in a wetland protection area that significantly alter the hydrology of a wetland.

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) is a technical agency and may be requested to provide advice to DILGP about these proposals. For more details about the assessment process, visit the DILGP website.

High impact earthworks associated with, or that will be a consequence of, are:

  • operational work under schedule 3, part 1, table 4, item 10
  • reconfiguring a lot under schedule 7, table 2, item 43A
  • material change of use under schedule 7, table 2, item 21A.

Some development is exempt from referral or assessment under this Regulation and within the definition for high impact earthworks. For more information refer to the Sustainable Planning Regulation 2009 (PDF).

Related legislation

Further information

Previous wetland policy:


For information on the State Assessment Referral Agency and State Development Assessment Provisions go to the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning website.

Contact one of the listed EHP offices for advice on wetland regulation.

For more information about wetlands, including definitions, mapping, conservation assessments and management, visit WetlandInfo.

Available from the library catalogue

The documents referred to on this page are available from the department’s online library catalogue.

Last updated
4 July 2013