Bilateral Agreements to streamline environmental approvals

New bilateral agreements will streamline the environmental assessment and approval process
Date: Monday, 22 December 2014

An Assessment Bilateral Agreement will take effect on 1 January while a draft Approvals Bilateral Agreement is now open for public comment 

The Western Australian and Commonwealth Governments’ progression to a One-Stop Shop for environmental assessments and approvals is making headway.

The Commonwealth Government will be able to rely on WA’s assessment of matters of national environmental significance under the Assessment Bilateral Agreement that will come into effect on 1 January 2015.

The Assessment Bilateral Agreement was co-signed on 3 October 2014 under the Commonwealth’s Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

A draft Approvals Bilateral Agreement was released by the Federal and Western Australian Environment Ministers on 19 December 2014 and will be open for an extended period of public comment until 13 February 2015.

Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) Environment Division Acting Executive Director Dr Marnie Leybourne said the One-Stop Shop policy will accredit the State’s assessment and approval processes of proposals affecting matters of national environmental significance under the State’s Environmental Protection Act 1986.

“These agreements will enable an integrated and coordinated approach to the assessment of actions requiring both Commonwealth and State approval, reducing red tape and duplication,” Dr Leybourne said.

“Although the One-Stop Shop policy impacts only assessments and approvals under the Environmental Protection Act 1986, DMP is affected as, under delegation by the Environmental Protection Authority, DMP assesses and approves native vegetation clearing on mineral tenements and petroleum titles.

“The Commonwealth Government will still make the approval decision under the EPBC Act but will rely on WA’s assessment report rather than conducting an independent assessment.”

The agreements were able to be developed following a Memorandum of Understanding between the Premier and Environment Minister and their federal counterparts signed in December 2013.

DMP is a member of the WA Government group, led by the Department of Premier and Cabinet, undertaking negotiations with the Commonwealth Bilateral Agreements Taskforce.

For further information on the One-Stop Shop or to comment on the draft Approvals Bilateral Agreement visit the Department of the Environment website.