Major Milestones on Streamlined Environmental Approvals

“The Commonwealth Government achieved several important milestones today in its plans to remove duplication between the Commonwealth and the states on environmental approvals, without compromising our environmental heritage,” Business Council of Australia Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott said.

“The introduction of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) (Bilateral Agreement Implementation) Bill and EPBC (Cost Recovery) Bill to parliament, along with the release of draft bilateral agreements with Queensland and New South Wales, provide business with confidence that bilateral agreements that accredit state government environmental approvals will be an enduring way to lower costs for business and maintain high environmental standards.

“The government’s decision to amend the EPBC act so that state government approvals relating to the ‘water trigger’ can be accredited by the Commonwealth is particularly welcome, as there isn’t, and never was, any policy rationale for excluding decisions relating to major coal or coal seam gas projects from bilateral agreements.

“Resources and energy projects are major drivers of jobs and economic growth, and this amendment will help secure future investment in these sectors and contribute to Australia’s ongoing national prosperity.

“The release of draft bilateral agreements with Queensland and New South Wales shows that real progress is being made towards establishing a one-stop-shop for environmental approvals.

“Other states and territories should now work constructively with the Commonwealth to ensure all jurisdictions have agreements that deliver on the promise of reduced costs to project proponents, at no cost to environment, in place by the end of 2014.

“While cost recovery plays an important role in providing efficient and equitable regulation, making it work in practice can be difficult.

“As the government develops cost recovery guidelines, it should consult with business and work closely with project proponents on its implementation” Ms Westacott said.

For further information contact:
Scott Thompson, Director, Media and Public Affairs
Business Council of Australia
Telephone (03) 8664 2603 | Mobile 0403 241 128