Federal Government to reform environmental tracking

Federal Government to reform environmental tracking

The Federal Government has announced plans for a national digital transformation program, to provide greater progress transparency for major environmental projects.

Environment Minister Sussan Ley said projects will be more clearly tracked, with quarterly results published on the Department of Environment and Energy website.

The program will initially commence through a partnership with the West Australian Government.

“This will mean access to one online portal to submit an application through both tiers of government, and access to a single database of biodiversity studies that can, in turn, be rolled out nationally,” Ms Ley said.

“The biodiversity database will provide better access to information, allow faster and more comprehensive data for project assessments, and provide a baseline that can be used by government to better measure conservation outcomes.”

According to Ms Ley, the partnership will lay the foundation for a national system that reduces the current 3.5 year assessment time frame.

“At the same time, we are investing $25 million in reducing unnecessary delays within the existing assessment system, including the establishment of a major projects team to ensure assessments can be completed efficiently and thoroughly in accordance with the act,” Ms Ley said.

While not specifically waste or resource recovery focused, the program will work in tandem with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999), which is currently under review.

The review’s discussion paper, released 21 November, examines whether the act remains fit for purpose, and fit for the future within the context of a changing environment.

The paper suggests the act could be amended to move towards a national standard setting approach linked more closely to outcomes.

As an example of how federal and state governments could agree to harmonised national standards, the paper cites standards for waste and site contamination under the National Environment Protection Council.

Under the review’s terms of reference, the independent reviewer must provide a report to the environment minister within 12 months of the review’s commencement.

The discussion paper is open for submissions until 14 February.

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