Victorian and Australian governments sign new assessment bilateral agreement

A NEW assessment bilateral agreement that removes duplication and provides a single process for environmental assessments in Victoria has been signed by the Commonwealth and Victorian governments.

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 Victoria in assessing certain actions under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Under the agreement, which commences on 26 December 2014, the Commonwealth will retain the power to approve or refuse actions, and to attach conditions to approved actions.

In a statement, Commonwealth Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the agreement reduces the regulatory burden on business, meets the requirements of both Victorian and the Commonwealth governments and maintains high environmental standards.

"Duplication of federal, state or territory and local planning processes adds complexity and cost to environmental approvals across the country," Mr Hunt said.

"We can cut red tape and streamline approvals, and importantly, we can do it without compromising high environmental standards."

In late 2013, the Commonwealth and Victoria signed a Memorandum of Understanding which set out the process and underlying principles for developing a One-Stop Shop in Victoria.

Having now completed the step of streamlining assessments, the next step in the one-stop shop reform process is to accredit the Victorian environmental approval system under national environment law.

More information is available from the Department of the Environment website at <http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/environment-protection/environment-assessments/bilateral-agreements>.

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