The community, industry and environment will benefit from streamlined major projects assessments and improved environmental outcomes under a new bilateral agreement between the Federal and NSW Governments.
Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley, NSW Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes and NSW Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean said the new Bilateral Assessment Agreement reduced the risk of Federal and State Government duplication under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, while maintaining strong environmental safeguards.
“We want to see strong environmental protection without unnecessary delays,” Ms Ley said.
“The changes are being made within the current Act and do not form part of the wider EPBC review under Professor Graeme Samuel.
“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.
NSW Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said the bilateral agreement is just one element of ongoing reforms to provide greater certainty, timeliness and transparency in the NSW Planning system.
“This agreement will mean environmental protections are applied more consistently than ever before to deliver better environmental outcomes,” Mr Stokes said.
“It will also help to achieve a single, streamlined assessment process that provides certainty for industry and investors by eliminating double-handling delays.”
NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean said making it easier to do business by streamlining environmental assessments was important after the recent bushfires.
“The Trust can now secure strategic offsets for specific and vulnerable species across a wider landscape,” he said.
“It provides more certainty for proponents and a better outcome for the environment.”