When you plan on developing property in Australia, you may be required to put the property through what is called an environmental assessment, and to have a report produced about the potential impact on the environment that would go along with your development. The regulations and requirements for this environmental assessment will vary in each state, but note a few factors to consider if you're a property developer and need an environmental assessment for a parcel of land.
What is included
An environmental assessment might be more complicated and involved than you realize; as an example, it would cover, not just any potential for pollution or soil erosion that could be caused by your development, but also whether or not the development would have an impact on the migratory patterns of birds. If you cut down a significant number of trees, this can impact those migratory patterns and an entire species of birds could be affected.
The assessment will also note if your development may affect heritage sites. Your site itself may not be listed as historically significant, but erecting any type of retaining structure or otherwise changing the landscaping of your site could affect a nearby heritage site. All of these factors are why it's important to have an actual environmental assessment done, rather than assuming that your planned changes to the landscape will not affect the overall environment.
An assessment and your proposed development
An environmental assessment doesn't just tell you if you can or cannot develop a site as planned; this would be up to your local city council or other such agencies. However, it can tell you how to better develop the site so as to have as little environmental impact as possible. As an example, if you planned on clearing all the trees from a site, an environmental assessment might note how many you should leave behind to allow birds to migrate to the area, how to replace those trees, or how to simply move them around the site so that birds still have a place to land when they migrate.
Also, an assessment will note the impact your proposed development would have on the environment, but this might not be enough to cause any agencies to deny the permits needed to go ahead with the project. Small environmental impacts are to be expected with any development, and they are weighed against the economic impact of your development, the need for new housing and businesses, and the like.