THE Western Australian and Australian governments last week said they are one step closer to creating a one-stop shop for environmental assessments and approvals, following the release of a draft bilateral agreement on environmental approvals for public comment
In a statement, Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt and WA Environment Minister Albert Jacob said that once finalised, the bilateral agreement will accredit Western Australian environmental assessment and approval processes under national environment law.
Mr Hunt said the Australian Government was committed to reducing the regulatory burden on business by streamlining the environmental approvals process.
"Duplication of Federal, State and local approvals processes adds complexity and cost to environmental approvals across the country - with no added environmental benefit," he said.
"The one-stop shop policy will accredit state and territory regulatory processes under national environmental law, to create a single approval process that satisfies both approval requirements while maintaining high environmental standards.
"This will save Australian businesses around $420 million nationally every year".
Mr Jacob said that the one-stop shop reform was aimed at reducing duplication between the federal and Western Australian governments, creating a simpler, more efficient approvals system while still ensuring robust environmental oversight of development proposals.
"Having an approval bilateral agreement in place will mean only one decision is required for environmental approvals, accounting for both Western Australian matters and matters of national environmental significance," he said.
"We are in no way lowering the bar for environmental assessments. We are simply removing pointless duplication to reduce the complexity of the existing system, which unnecessarily adds costs and delays to environmental approvals in Western Australia."
The draft agreement is open for public comment until 13 February 2015. More information is available from the Department of the Environment website at <http://www.environment.gov.au/protection/environment-assessments/bilateral-agreements/wa>.