A NEW assessment bilateral agreement that aims to remove duplication and provide a single process for environmental assessments in the Australian Capital Territory has been signed by the Commonwealth and ACT governments.
In a joint statement, Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt and ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell described the agreement as an important milestone in streamlining the environmental assessment process in the ACT through the Australian Government's 'one stop shop' policy.
The agreement allows the Federal Environment Minister to rely on specified environmental impact assessment processes of the ACT when assessing actions under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
According to the government, the new one stop shop for environmental approvals aims to reduce the regulatory burden on business whilst meeting both Territory and Commonwealth government requirements and maintaining high environmental standards.
ACT-based projects that are already being assessed under the existing agreement will transition seamlessly across to the new agreement. The agreement also streamlines the administrative relationship between the Australian Government and the ACT.
Mr Hunt said the agreement accredits ACT environmental assessment processes which meet high environmental standards. "Under this agreement, I will retain the power to approve or refuse actions and to attach conditions to approved actions," he said.
Mr Corbell said he was pleased with the signing of the new assessment bilateral agreement with the Commonwealth, adding that the agreement will help to streamline environmental assessments.
"The new agreement also signals that the ACT is closer to securing a One-Stop Shop. Negotiations between the ACT and Commonwealth are progressing well, and we expect to have a One-Stop Shop in place in 2014," the Minister said.