Before you start

If you are starting a new environmentally relevant activity (ERA), taking over or making changes to an existing ERA, you will need to consider planning, building, and plumbing approvals.

Planning approval

Your first step when starting any ERA is to check if you need planning approval.

Council’s planning scheme guides how land can be used and developed.

All new ERAs administered by Council are assessable development under the Planning Act 2016 and require a material change of use development application to Council.

If the site already has an ERA, you may still need planning approval for these activities:

  • changing the type of activity (e.g. from mechanical repair to metal recovery)
  • re-establishing an ERA activity that was abandoned
  • changing the scale or intensity of activity (e.g. adding an extra plastic extrusion line)
  • carrying out assessable building work (e.g. constructing a spray booth)
  • carrying out assessable plumbing or drainage work (e.g. trade waste connection).

To find out if you need to submit a development application, you can:

  • lodge an enquiry with Council
  • arrange a pre-lodgement meeting with Council
  • engage a town planning consultant registered with the Planning Institute of Australia
  • self-assess your property details against Council’s planning scheme.

You can access Council’s planning scheme using PD Online.

Building approval

Building work for an ERA may include:

  • constructing a new spray booth
  • replacing an underground fuel tank.

All building work is assessed against the building assessment provisions (including, but not limited to, the National Construction Code and the Queensland Development Code) which set the minimum requirements for building structure, fire safety, access and egress, health and amenity, and energy efficiency.

To find out if you need building approval, you can:

Compliance certificates for building work

Assessable building work requires building approval from a building certifier.  Sometimes the building certifier relies on advice from other people for assessing the design/specification and inspection of buildings.

The building certifier uses these forms to accept advice on assessable building work.

  • Form 15 specifies the design and its limitations.
  • Form 16 confirms the installation or construction meets the design.

During the environmental authority application process, Council may ask for a Form 15 that certifies the design of a major component of your business (e.g. spray booth with exhaust), and a Form 16 to certify that the component was installed to the design specification.

Your building certifier will collect these forms as necessary.

Find out more about Forms 15 and 16.

Plumbing approval

ERAs may need plumbing and drainage approvals for these activities:

  • installation of sinks
  • release of trade waste to sewer
  • installation and maintenance of backflow prevention devices
  • use of non-reticulated water supply (tank water).

The Plumbing Code of Australia forms Volume 3 of the National Construction Code and contains the technical provisions for plumbing and drainage.

Plumbing and drainage work should be conducted by a licensed plumber. 

Contact Council or your local water authority for more information.

Trade waste consent

Trade waste is liquid waste produced by a business.  All businesses require consent from the local water authority to release trade waste to the sewer.

Some ERAs also need pre-treatment equipment and monitoring equipment (e.g. separators, interceptors, or grease traps, or in-sink or in-drain baskets) before being released to the sewer.

The property owner or tenant (depending on the lease agreement) is responsible for organising trade waste approvals and the installation of any pre-treatment equipment.

Backflow prevention devices

Backflow prevention devices stop sewage flowing back through to the town’s water supply.  There are two different types of backflow prevention devices, testable and non-testable.

All ERAs connected to town water require a non-testable backflow prevention device.  A licensed plumbing contractor can install a non-testable backflow prevention device for you.

ERAs with a pre-treatment device will need to have a testable backflow prevention device. A testable backflow device must be:

  • installed by an endorsed backflow plumber
  • registered with Council by the endorsed backflow plumber
  • inspected or tested annually by a licensed plumber.

Non-reticulated water supply

Reticulated water is drinkable water supplied by the local water authority. Non-reticulated water is any other water you have access to e.g. rainwater, groundwater from wells or bores, or greywater from baths, sinks, washing machines, and other kitchen appliances.

Some local governments require the use of rainwater or greywater systems for new buildings.  A list of participating local governments is available from the Department of Housing and Public Works.

ERAs can use rainwater or greywater (or other non-reticulated water) for non-drinking purposes including dust suppression, cooling systems, flushing toilets, gardening, and as cold water for washing machines.

The installation of a non-reticulated water supply must meet the requirements of the Queensland Development Code, MP 4.3 – Supplementary Water Sources.  A plumbing approval is not required to use rainwater or greywater in your building, but your plumber will need to notify the Queensland Building and Construction Commission.  Your plumber will provide you with a copy of the notification.

You may need planning or building approval for storage tanks larger than 10m2, or if the tank is located in a cyclone area.

Contact Council or your local water authority for more information on non-reticulated water supply approvals.