Cuts to environmental approval times

The Prime Minister is calling for the environmental approval processes for major projects to be reduced to 30 days.

On Monday June 15, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Federal Government would continue to take steps to cut project approval times under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

At the end of 2019, the final stage of approval decisions took 90 days on average and today they take 40 days.

Morrison has set a 30-day target in the hope it’s achieved by the end of the year.

EPBC Act approvals are currently in addition to any state or local council processes, but Mr Morrison wants to streamline the approvals into one, which will be discussed by national cabinet.

The Federal Government is targeting a 50 per cent reduction in Commonwealth assessment and approval times of major projects, from an average of 3.5 years to 21 months.

The PM revealed in his CEDA speech that delays to approvals for projects under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act cost industry $300 million in 2019.

Susan Ley, Federal Minister for the Environment, said in a statement that specialist major project teams, the development of central data bases and improved communication between state and federal departments are ensuring clearer processes and greater certainty around environmental safeguards.

“In the process we are making companies even more proactive in identifying and complying with environmental safeguards under the Act, particularly in the light of the Bushfire Crisis,” she stated.

“The National Cabinet will discuss further measures to streamline Commonwealth and state processes and will be informed by the current EPBC review.”

The current review of EPBC Act is being conducted by Professor Graeme Samuel and is due to provide an interim report by the end of this month.

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