Perth city. Photo by Tom Proudfoot
Perth city. Photo by Tom Proudfoot

All commercial activities in the Swan Canning Development Control Area (DCA) require a permit from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA).

Commercial activities proposed in the river reserve (waters in the DCA) also require a licence from DBCA.

Licences and permits allow commercial operations to be assessed, authorised, managed and monitored to ensure the protection and long-term enjoyment of the Swan and Canning rivers.

The flowchart below will help you identify what kind of approval you need. The Form 8 Commercial Activity Application for Approval/Renewal simplifies this process and allows you to use one form to apply for:

  • a permit for land-based activities
  • or both a permit and licence for activities that include an on-water component.

Approvals required for commercial activities in the Development Control Area

Where development of infrastructure is required on land or water to support the business, a development approval and/or lease may also be required.

Who needs to apply?

Anyone wishing to undertake a commercial activity within the Swan Canning DCA requires an approval.

Some examples of commercial activities that require approval include:

  • charters and tours
  • adventure activities
  • hire and drive vessels
  • instruction/lessons
  • firework displays
  • food vending

The DCA includes the waters of the Swan and Canning rivers and adjoining parks and recreation reserves. To determine if your proposed commercial activity is within the DCA and requires approval, please refer to the DCA map.

How to apply

Complete the Form 8 Commercial Activity Application (available for download below) and submit your application.

The Form 8 Commercial Activity Application simplifies the application process and allows you to apply for a permit for land-based activities or both a permit and licence for commercial activities that include an on-water component.

The Form 8 includes Commercial Activity Application Guidelines (in the first two pages of the form) with application submission instructions and a checklist to ensure all information required to make an assessment of the activity proposed is submitted with the application.

Corporate Policy 46 – Planning for commercial operations in the Swan Canning Development Control Area provides guidance regarding DBCA’s position on commercial facilities and operations in the DCA. This policy is available for download on the corporate policies page.

Other policies relevant to development in the Swan Canning DCA are available in the Policies, Plans and Procedures Manual.

Please note that DBCA may require modifications to your proposal to address environmental or amenity factors, community values, shared use, and safety considerations.

If you require assistance or would like to discuss your proposal, please contact DBCA Rivers and Estuaries, Statutory Assessments Unit, on 9219 9000 or at rivers.planning@dbca.wa.gov.au.

Renewing an existing approval for a commercial activity

Existing commercial activity approvals for operations in the DCA can be renewed by completing and submitting the Form 8 Commercial Activity Application Form (available for download below).

Renewals are generally issued for a period of two years. Please make note of the expiry date and allow enough time for the application for renewal to be processed so that the approval does not lapse. Penalties may apply for operating in the DCA without an approval.

How long does it take to assess a Form 8 application?

Licence/permit applications for standard charter vessel operations can be processed and approved within 28 days (often sooner) once all relevant information has been received.

All other commercial activity applications require referrals to other agencies such as the Department of Transport – Marine Safety and/or the relevant local government authority and can take up to 42 days to process once all relevant information has been received.

New commercial activities proposed in the DCA or complex applications may require a higher level of assessment and application processing times may be extended.

Proposals that require development of infrastructure in the DCA may require Ministerial approval under Part 5 of the Swan and Canning Rivers Management Act 2006. DBCA can advise on the timeframe for Part 5 applications depending on the nature of the proposal.  More information on the process for obtaining a Part 5 development approval is provided on the Parks and Wildlife Service website.

The application process

The following diagram illustrates the commercial activity approval process which generally takes six weeks to determine (this includes a 21 day referral period to other relevant government agencies for advice).

All relevant supporting information for the proposal must be provided before the application can be processed.  A checklist is provided in the Form 8 - Commercial Activity Application Form.

Commercial activity application process

Frequently asked questions about commercial activity approvals

Why do I need a licence or permit to operate my commercial activity in the Swan Canning Riverpark?

Licences and permits allow tourism activities to be assessed, authorised, managed and monitored. These licences and permits have conditions or terms that must be met by businesses operating in the Swan Canning Riverpark and are designed to ensure that commercial activities complement the Riverpark and do not negatively impact on the environment, amenity, community values and shared use of the area.  Safety also needs to be considered. All commercial activities in the DCA require a permit. Commercial activities on water (in the Swan Canning River reserve) require a permit and a licence.

Which agency grants licences and leases for the Swan and Canning rivers?

The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) is the State Government agency that has planning, protection and management responsibilities for the Swan and Canning rivers and associated land, collectively known as the Swan Canning Development Control Area. For more information please visit www.dbca.wa.gov.au/department.

Is there a fee for lodging an application?

DBCA does not currently charge fees to make permit or licence applications for commercial activities in the Swan Canning Development Control Area.

Are there any other approvals I may need for my commercial activity in the Swan Canning Riverpark?

If development of infrastructure is required to support a commercial activity, a Ministerial approval under Part 5 of the Swan and Canning Rivers Management Act 2006 may be required.

Riverbed leases are used to authorise activities that require the exclusive use of a site in the river to support the business operations, such as commercial jetties or overwater restaurants. New leases granted over the River reserve must be consistent with a Part 5 development approval for the supporting infrastructure. Commercial rates are charged for the lease.

Long term use of land in the Swan Canning Riverpark may require approval and a licence or lease from the relevant land manager. This is usually the local government authority.

Other licences or certificates from government agencies may also be required for your commercial activity such as a jetty licence, liquor licence, a Certificate of Survey or trading permit.

For more information contact DBCA Rivers and Estuaries, Statutory Assessments Unit, on 9219 9000 or at rivers.planning@dbca.wa.gov.au.

If I have a T-Class licence issued under the Conservation and Land Management Act (CALM Act) for activities in the Swan Estuary Marine Park, do I still need a licence/permit under the Swan and Canning Rivers Management Act 2006 (SCRM Act)?

Regulation 17(2)(b) of the Swan and Canning Rivers Management Regulations 2007 states a permit is not required if the commercial act or activity is undertaken in accordance with a licence issued under section 101 of the CALM Act.  Note, this applies if the approved commercial activity occurs within the Swan Estuary Marine Park only. The Swan Estuary Marine Park encompasses Alfred Cove, 200 hectares adjacent to the suburbs of Attadale and Applecross; Pelican Point, a 45 hectare area in Crawley; and Milyu, 95 hectares adjacent to the Como foreshore.

For example, if a stand-up paddle board operator is only operating in a CALM Act Marine Park and has an approval under the CALM Act to do so, a SCRM Act permit/licence would not be required.  If a stand-up paddle board operator also wanted to operate from other locations in the Swan Canning Riverpark, outside of the marine park, a licence and permit under the SCRM Act would also be required.

Why do I have to apply through a competitive process for some licences and leases?

A competitive process may apply to the grant of some licences and leases.  This is the fairest way to grant the licence or lease opportunity to the most competitive applicant and to ensure the best outcomes are obtained for the community through a transparent process. 

A competitive process may apply to the grant of licences that are restricted in number or for riverbed leases. For example, a competitive process was run for the commercial operation of seaplanes on Perth Water to select the most suitable operator.

If you have questions about whether a competitive process may apply to your proposal, please contact DBCA Rivers and Estuaries, Statutory Assessments Unit, on 9219 9000 or at rivers.planning@dbca.wa.gov.au.

What role do Aboriginal traditional owners have in the Swan Canning Riverpark?

Aboriginal people have a connection to, and an ongoing interest in, the care of lands and waters of WA’s national, marine and conservation parks.

It is important that Aboriginal people can express and maintain their culture and connection to country. DBCA is committed to providing opportunities for Aboriginal people to help manage and promote parks through joint management arrangements and other partnerships, and by providing Aboriginal tourism opportunities. 

In managing the Swan Canning Riverpark, DBCA has a responsibility to recognise the interests of the Aboriginal community that has an association with the Swan Canning Riverpark and to provide for their participation in the management of those areas and the management of activities affecting the ecological and community benefits and amenity of those areas.

Commercial operators in the Swan Canning Riverpark are encouraged to consider how Aboriginal culture, heritage and values may be acknowledged in their commercial activities, and to consider employing or partnering with Aboriginal people.

The Swan River is a known Aboriginal site of significance. Disturbance of a significant site may require consultation with the traditional owners and approval under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972.

Who can I contact for advice in applying for a licence or permit to operate in the Swan Canning Riverpark?

For all enquiries relating to commercial activities in the Swan Canning Riverpark contact the DBCA Rivers and Estuaries, Statutory Assessments Unit, on 9219 9000 or at rivers.planning@dbca.wa.gov.au. DBCA can also assist with preliminary advice on your proposed commercial activity prior to you lodging a formal application.

Page reviewed 16 Mar 2021