Alberta's Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA) and accompanying regulations set out in detail which activities require approvals and the process for obtaining them.
The Act supports a streamlined "single window" approach to approvals: one Director in each administrative region is responsible for coordinating and integrating the review of potential impacts of proposed projects on the environment (air, land and water).
Details of the process are provided in these regulations:
Alberta Environment and Parks no longer accepts paper copies of EPEA applications and regulatory submissions associated with EPEA approval conditions. All EPEA applications and supporting documentation must be delivered in PDF format.
To find out about submission requirements, and where to email your applications and supporting documentation, please see:
When is an approval required?
These main categories of activity require an approval:
- Waste management
- Substance release
- Conservation and reclamation
- Miscellaneous (pesticides, designated materials, water wells)
- Potable (drinking) water
Where a project involves more than one of these activities, a single, blanket approval may be issued.
Approval process stages
The application form and appropriate fee are sent to:
Regulatory Approvals Centre
Alberta Environment and Parks
Main Floor, 9820 - 106 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T5K 2J6
For information on the appropriate fees, see:
The fee structure is based on a charge for each new approval, renewal or amendment, the complexity of the activity and the level of service needed to review and process the application (Local authorities, the Alberta government and its agencies are not required to pay application fees).
Fees are non-refundable once technical review of an application has begun. Fees are payable to the Government of Alberta.
The information required in an application includes:
- the location, capacity and size of the activity
- the nature of the activity
- an account of any public consultation undertaken or proposed by the applicant
The Director can waive requirements that do not apply to a proposed project. Guidelines have been developed with detailed requirements for specific kinds of activities.
Public involvement is a key component of the approval process: the Act says the public must be notified of all approval applications. Anyone directly affected by an application may submit a written statement to the Director outlining concerns, and may appeal a decision to issue an approval.
The Director may waive the notice requirement in an emergency; when the activity is considered routine, or adequate notice has already been given.
A routine activity is one that will result in minimal or no adverse effect on the environment.
The review determines whether the activity's general and overall impact on the environment is in accordance with the Act and regulations. The review may address design plans, site suitability, proposed monitoring programs and methods of minimizing the generation, use and release of substances.
To complete a review, the Director may request additional information and ask the applicant to hold public information meetings or address public statements of concern.
Decision to Issue or Refuse an Approval
The Director decides whether an approval will be issued and under what conditions, weighing the results of any related public hearings of the Alberta Energy Regulator or the Natural Resources Conservation Board, or statements of concern.
Following the decision, notice is provided to the applicant (or approval holder) and to those who filed statements of concern.
Requests for appeal are submitted to the Environmental Appeals Board, an administrative tribunal established under the Act. For details on this, see the process to appeal online.
Approvals may be issued for a maximum of 10 years, but the Director can set a shorter term. See the Environmental Protection and Enhancement (Miscellaneous) Regulation (section 7) for details.
Changes to approvals
The applicant or the Director can ask for an amendment to an approval at any time, to deal with an adverse effect not foreseeable when the approval was first issued. All amendments and changes to an activity are subject to the approval process. Changes in an activity that do not require an amendment are specified in Section 64(3) of the Act.
Suspension and cancellation
An approval can be suspended or cancelled on application from an approval holder, on the Director's initiative or through an enforcement order.
An approval can be transferred with the prior written consent of the Director. Transfer applications should be sent to the Regulatory Approvals Centre (see address above). There is no fee for a transfer.
Certificates of qualification
Individuals whose work could affect the environment may be required to obtain certificates indicating their qualifications to do this type of work. A certificate of qualification is needed for work related to:
- potable water
- substance releases
- wastewater and storm drainage
These certificates of qualification are not intended to duplicate other training and certification programs in Alberta.
Depending on the nature of the activity, the applicant or approval holder may be required to provide financial security. If the terms of the approval or legislation with respect to conservation and reclamation are not followed, security can be used by the department to remedy the deficiencies.
Security is required for approvals related to waste management and to conservation and reclamation. (See Schedule, Activities Designation Regulation.)
Where a Water Well Regulation approval is cancelled or suspended, the Director may refuse to issue another approval to the same holder without security.
Plant Site Information
For more information on plant sites that require EPEA registration, see:
For more information on the EPEA approval process, please call:
Updated: Mar 9, 2018