Draft bilateral agreement released for 'one-stop-shop' environmental approvals in Tasmania

THE Tasmanian and Federal Governments last week said they are now one step closer to creating a 'one-stop shop' for environmental assessments and approvals, following the release of a draft approval bilateral agreement for public comment.

The draft approval bilateral agreement provides for the accreditation of Tasmanian processes for approval of proposed actions that would otherwise be assessed by the Australian Government for approval under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Once finalised and implemented, the one-stop shop reforms will simplify the environmental approvals process by ensuring that only one approval – covering both Commonwealth and state requirements – is needed for proposed actions that are likely to have a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance.

In a media statement, Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the current system results in duplication of federal, state and local planning processes and adds complexity and cost to environmental approvals across the country, with no added environmental benefit.

"Under current arrangements, major projects can be delayed through multiple and duplicative approval processes, even if the project is environmentally acceptable," Mr Hunt said.

"To cut red tape the Federal Government is working with state and territory governments to develop a 'One-Stop Shop' for environmental approvals."

Tasmanian Environment Minister Matthew Groom said the new approval bilateral agreement will deliver on a commitment to streamline the State and Commonwealth approval process and ensure that opportunities for growth and investment across the state are maximised.

The finalised approval bilateral agreement will include a list of Tasmanian processes that have been accredited by the Federal Environment Minister. These processes are known as 'accredited processes'. No separate Australian Government referral, assessment or approval will be required for proposed actions that fall under an accredited process.

More information is available from the Department of the Environment website at <http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/environment-protection/environment-assessments/bilateral-agreements/tas>. The consultation period ends on 11 September 2014.

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