Saturday, December 14, 2013

Explainer: one-stop-shop for environmental approvals

Explainer: one-stop-shop for environmental approvals
What changes are proposed?
The “one-stop-shop” policy proposes to enter approval bilateral agreements under the EPBC Act with all state and territory governments, thereby delegating final approval powers over projects to them.
While the framework so far released to the public reads like a complete handover of all Commonwealth decisions to the states, the Federal Environment Minister qualified the Coalition’s policy before the election when he was the Coalition’s environment spokesperson. He said in an interview reported in the Weekend Australian in May 2013 that: “some matters would be reserved where the Commonwealth would be the one-stop-shop but overwhelmingly it would be the states."
The Minister confirmed in a radio interview after the election that the Commonwealth will retain control over decisions involving offshore Commonwealth waters, nuclear actions, and projects for which state governments are “likely to have a significant conflict of interest” as the proponent.
Assuming these promises are fulfilled, they alleviate the most significant concern about the one-stop-shop policy: where the state is the proponent they’ll have difficulty making an independent assessment.

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