THE Federal and South Australian governments last week signed a new bilateral agreement to streamline environmental assessments as part of the Commonwealth's 'one-stop shop' reforms for environmental approvals.
The new agreement creates a single environmental assessment process that allows the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment to rely on specified environmental impact assessment processes of South Australia in assessing certain actions under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
In a statement, Commonwealth Environment Minister Greg Hunt described the agreement as another important milestone in reducing the regulatory burden on business, adding that it streamlines the environmental assessment process while maintaining high environmental standards.
"Duplication of federal, state or territory and local planning processes adds complexity and cost to environmental approvals across the country. The introduction of the one-stop shop reform will save Australian businesses around $420 million every year," Mr Hunt said.
Under the agreement, South Australia will provide a report to the Australian Government assessing the likely impacts of a project on matters of national environmental significance.
Following this assessment stage, the state and the Australian Government each make a decision on project approval and conditions to meet differing requirements. This may result in two approval decisions and two sets of conditions.
More information is available from the Department of the Environment website at <http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/environment-protection/environment-assessments/bilateral-agreements>.