Sacred Site Clearance Certificates

Why do I need one?

Sacred sites have deep spiritual significance in our cultures. They are central to Aboriginal traditional land ownership under the Land Rights Act. Protecting these places helps maintain that culture and connection to land and the associated Aboriginalidentities, while protecting the environment that constitutes these sites. Our cultures dictate that traditional owners in our region protect their sacred sites. Our job is to help them, largely through sacred site clearances.

Before you can undertake works on Aboriginal land (build or change the footprint of an existing building, make or widen roads, explore, mine or otherwise disturb ground not already heavily impacted; or remove mature trees or their branches) you must apply to us for a sacred site clearance certificate. Your works must not start until we have completed a sacred site clearance and issued you a certificate – whether or not you have or need a land lease or licence.

The certificate serves two purposes. It helps to prevent damage to,and interference with, Aboriginal sacred sites by setting out conditions of work on the land it covers. When you accept a certificate, you agree to comply with these conditions.

The certificate also protects you against prosecution for entering, damagingor interfering with sacred sites under the Land Rights Act and the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act (Sacred Sites Act) by providing you with documentary evidence that the traditional owners of the land have been consulted and consent toyour proposed works under the conditions of the certificate. Provided you comply with all the conditions of your certificate you will not be in breach of these laws.

Who should apply?
  • Anyone wanting to carry out work on Aboriginal land, with or without a lease or licence.
    Aboriginal land is freehold land granted under the Land Rights Act, as marked on this map. It can also refer to freehold land granted to Aboriginal associations or corporations under NT laws, for example community living areas excised from pastoral leases.
  • Anyone who has an agreement with us in relation to works on non-Aboriginal land (for example, land use agreements under the Native Title Act).
    If you want to carry out work on non-Aboriginal land and have no agreement with us requiring a CLC sacred site clearance certificate, you may need to obtain an authority certificate from the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority in order to protect sites and protect yourself against prosecution under the Sacred Sites Act.
How do I apply?

Complete an application form and submit it to us with supporting documentation, namely a clear and accurate description of your proposed works, ideally mapped.

What will you do with my application?

After receiving your completed application, we will consult with traditional owners of the land it covers about your proposed works. If we are satisfied that the works will not risk damaging or interfering with sacredsites, and the traditional owners give informed consent to the works, we will issue you with a sacred site clearance certificate. It may include conditions to protect sacred sites consistent with the traditional owners’ specific instructions.

How much does it cost?

We seek to recover the costs of certain consultations with traditional owners, including for site clearances. We use a schedule of fees and charges to calculate the cost in each case. We recover most consultation costs associatedwith resource exploration and extraction from the proponents.

Do I also need a permit to enter Aboriginal land?

Our certificate is not a permit to enter Aboriginal land. If your works are proposed on Aboriginal land, you will most likely require an entry permit from us to accompany your certificate.

Permit application forms are also available from our reception, 27 Stuart Highway, Alice Springs or you can phone (08) 8951 6320.

To expedite your permit, please include in your permit application your CLC sacred site clearance certificate number, if known.

What is the process?

A clearance certificate application triggers our site clearance process. Well-documented works allow traditional owners to gain a sound understanding of what you propose and enables them to make informed site protection decisions.

We are legally obliged to first correctly identify the traditional owners of the subject land, who are typically a smaller subset of a larger known group, depending on the works’ footprint. A suitable works map in the application helps us to consult theright people.

We then consult the group about the proposal and may invite you to discuss the proposal with group members to ensure they understand its nature and scope. Once we are satisfied that they are fully informed about it we ascertain their wishesregarding the proposal, necessarily in private with them.

If the traditional owners agree in principle to the proposal, we visit the country covered by the proposal with them to discuss the proposed works in detail on the ground using your documentation.This allows them to make any culturally sensitive areas off-limits for works and/or provide any necessary instructions towards conditions of works near sites. We may inform you informally, broadly of their wishes so you can plan. But you must not beginwork without the certificate itself. It prevails over all other site protection communication.

In rare cases of minor works it is deemed no certificate is necessary. In that case we will inform you of that in writing upon application. On the other hand,larger and more complex projects can require traditional owner monitoring on the ground during the works as an added sacred site protection measure. Such a measure is normally a condition of the certificate and at your cost.

As a CLC sacred site clearancecertificate holder you will be legally responsible for ensuring that the works referred to comply with the certificate’s terms and conditions, and will be liable for prosecution if not – even if you sub-contract the works or works components to a separate agency.