Major project assessments are set to be streamlined under a new bilateral agreement between the Federal and NSW Governments.
Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley said the new Bilateral Assessment Agreement will reduce the risk of Federal and state government duplication under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, while maintaining strong environmental safeguards.
“The changes are being made within the current Act, and do not form part of the wider EPBC review under Professor Graeme Samuel,” she said.
“They help all parties to understand what is expected of them in protecting the environment and the responsibilities they face in putting forward major projects.”
The new agreement includes harmonisation of the way proponents ‘off-set’ environmental impacts through the provision of alternate habitat areas.
“The NSW Biodiversity Offsets Scheme will now apply to all projects under the Bilateral agreement, and requires companies to contribute to the Biodiversity Conservation Trust that funds appropriate environmental protections to achieve strategic biodiversity gains across the state,” Ms Ley said.
According to NSW Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes, the bilateral agreement is just one element of ongoing reforms designed to provide greater certainty, timeliness and transparency to the NSW Planning system.
“This agreement will mean environmental protections are applied more consistently than ever before to deliver better environmental outcomes,” he said.
“It will also help to achieve a single, streamlined assessment process that provides certainty for industry and investors by eliminating double-handling delays.”