Monday, October 28, 2013

Conservation groups hold crisis meeting to stop handover of approvals | World news |

Conservation groups hold crisis meeting to stop handover of approvals | World news |

The memorandum of understanding signed 10 days ago by the prime minister, Tony Abbott, the environment minister, Greg Hunt, and the Queensland premier, Campbell Newman, and the Queensland environment minister, Andrew Powell, “looks like a straight handover of approval powers,” said the chief executive of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Don Henry.
The MOU states that Queensland must “ensure that matters of national environmental significance are separately identified and assessed, taking into account commonwealth guidelines, plans and policies” and that the state assessments must “meet commonwealth standards”. The Commonwealth pledges to avoid “to the greatest extent possible … imposing additional conditions”.
The MOU is intended as a template for legally-binding bilateral agreements between the commonwealth and each of the states - fulfilling the Coalition’s election promise to create and environment assessment “one-stop shop” and to remove “green tape”.
In a statement announcing the MOU had been signed, Abbott said it would “slash the growing burden and duplication of red and green tape which is a handbrake on investment in Queensland because two sets of environmental approvals cause delays to projects and investment across the state and the country.”
“The one-stop shop does not replace any state or federal environment laws – it simply streamlines the process, ensuring just one application, instead of two, needs to be made.


  1. Australia to Streamline Approval Process for Offshore Petroleum Activities

    The Australian Government announced Friday that it has taken an important step towards ensuring a "one-stop-shop" approval process for offshore petroleum activities in Australian waters. Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane, Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt and CEO of the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) Jane Cutler have agreed to undertake a strategic assessment of NOPSEMA’s current environmental management processes.

    “The environmental impacts of offshore petroleum activities are currently regulated under both the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999 and the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006,” said Macfarlane.

    “This dual assessment, monitoring and enforcement creates duplication and is an unnecessary burden on business without any additional environmental protection benefits."

    “The Government has prioritized this strategic assessment so that NOPSEMA’s environmental regulation can be recognized as meeting the requirements of the EPBC Act without additional referral or approval required from a separate Commonwealth regulator.”

    “The outcome of the strategic assessment will deliver faster environmental approvals, reduce duplication in environmental assessments and regulation and promote Australian industry and protect employment while maintaining integrity of the environmental approvals process,” said Hunt.

    “The strategic assessment will need to demonstrate that the current high environmental standards can be achieved in protecting our marine environment. I will not accept any lessening of standards for protection of Australia’s marine environment."

    “This is part of the overall policy to create a one-stop-shop for environmental approvals and follows the recent signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with Queensland as the first stage in this process.” The strategic assessment will be robust and transparent, including public consultation on the draft strategic assessment report, to be released in late 2013.