Streamlining Environmental Legislation - UPDATE

COMMENTARY:  Inquiry into streamlining environmental regulation, 'green tape' and one stop shops

'One-stop Shop for Environmental Approvals' initiative by the Federal Government aims to:

  • Simplify the environmental assessment process within the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act); and
  • Remove duplication with the State’s various environmental approval legislation. 
In 2014, the Standing Committee on the Environment inquired into and reported on streamlining environmental regulation 'green tape' and one stop shops. The Terms of Reference for the inquiry focused on:
  • Arrangements both between and within jurisdictions.
  • Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the regulatory framework.  
  • The balance between regulatory efficiency and environmental protection and areas for potential deregulation.
 Bushland in Victoria

The Federal Government is continuing to progress the implementation of ‘one-stop-shop’ reforms for environmental approvals, despite support from the Senate for supporting legislative amendments.

A majority of the public submissions from the inquiry were on the operation of the EPBC Act, and more specifically the assessments and approvals processes.

Streamlining environmental legislation – Inquiry into streamlining environmental regulation, 'green tape', and one stop shop

The Streamlining environmental legislation – Inquiry into streamlining environmental regulation, 'green tape', and one stop shop report was tabled, Mon 23 Feb, 2015 in Parliament with ‚Äč13 recommendations:

1.     Pursue outstanding approval and assessment bilaterals with the States.

2.     Each bilateral should have a risk-based terms of reference for environmental impact studies.

3.     Commence a review of the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme.

4.     Amend the Building Energy Efficiency Disclosure Act 2010 to remove requirement for routine lighting
        assessment of buildings.

5.    The Department of the Environment, the Threatened Species Commissioner and the states and 
       territories should collaborate to develop: 

         a. A common approach to listing of threatened species and delisting of species that are no longer 
         b. A single national list of threatened species which is regularly updated; 
         c. A process that removes unnecessary duplication of science in assessment of threatened species.

6.     Take action to further streamline the ongoing enforcement and maintenance responsibilities of the
        National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority to apply to offshore
        petroleum projects.

7.     Investigate methods of accreditation for environmental practitioners and contractors to enable the
        establishment of a professional body.

8.     Reduce duplication between National Environmental Protection Measures and related regulations,
        policies and programs within the states and territories.

9.     Continue to undertake strategic assessments.

10.    Work towards making publically available all environmental data gathered through government and
         non-government entities through environmental assessments, and establish a central repository for
         storage of data.

11.    Work with the Council and Australian Governments processes to advocate for harmonisation of
         environmental regulation throughout the state and territories.

12.    Update publically available information to clearly state the option of having a pre-referral meeting with
         department officers.

13.    Continue to review the range of environmental reporting required of industry and investigate developing
         standardised and centralised environmental databases and/or standardised measurement and
         formatting requirements.

Draft approval bilateral agreements have been released for most States and Territories, with the exception of the Northern Territory and Victoria. The bilateral agreements have a relatively broad application, although there is room for processes beyond major EIA approvals to be accredited. 

The full report can be found here


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