As part of major reform of environmental regulation across all levels of government, the Commonwealth and ACT governments are committed to delivering a ‘one-stop-shop’ for environmental approvals.
This process will maintain high environmental standards while promoting a stronger economy by simplifying approval processes to enable faster planning decisions.
All states and territories are negotiating with the Commonwealth for a one-stop-shop.
What is the one-stop-shop?
The one-stop-shop creates a single assessment and approval process that satisfies both Commonwealth and ACT requirements. This will achieve time and cost savings without compromising strong environmental outcomes. Technically, the one-stop-shop refers to a bilateral agreement between the Commonwealth and ACT that embodies Commonwealth accreditation of ACT environmental assessment and approval processes under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
The three stages required to implement the one-stop-shop include:
- Memorandum of understanding (complete)
- Bilateral agreement relating to environmental assessment (complete)
- Bilateral agreement relating to environmental approval (released for public comment by the Australian Government Department of the Environment from 15 August to 12 September 2014)
The bilateral agreement relating to environmental assessment provides a single environmental assessment process, conducted by the ACT, which meets both ACT and Commonwealth requirements. Under this agreement, the ACT is responsible for the assessment process, but both governments still have an approval process.
The bilateral agreement relating to environmental approval will allow the ACT to approve projects that are likely to have impacts on Commonwealth listed matters (matters of national environmental significance), removing the necessity for double handling.
The ACT signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Commonwealth in December 2013 to develop a one-stop-shop for environmental approvals under the EPBC Act. This would allow the ACT to regulate matters of national environmental significance.
The new bilateral agreement relating to environmental assessment was based on the existing agreement, which was revised based on comments received during public notification from 28 March to 28 April 2014.
The Commonwealth Department of the Environment released the bilateral agreement relating to environmental approval for public consultation under the EPBC Act from 15 August to 12 September 2014.
The Planning and Development (Bilateral Agreement) Amendment Act 2014 commenced on 2 April 2015 and makes amendments to the ACT Planning and Development Act 2007. The amendments aim to facilitate and support implementation of a one stop shop for environmental approvals, which is currently being negotiated between the ACT and Commonwealth governments.
The amendments also make improvements to existing processes, to achieve greater efficiencies and transparency. The new legislation makes standalone amendments which provide benefits to the ACT even in the absence of a one stop shop. Further information on the amendments can be found using the links below.
For more information about the one stop shop for environmental approvals, including copies of the bilateral agreements and the memorandum of understanding, please go to the Commonwealth Department of the Environment website at: www.environment.gov.au/epbc/one-stop-shop
A fact sheet about the commencement of the Planning and Development (Bilateral Agreement) Amendment Act 2014 is available at: http://www.planning.act.gov.au/topics/design_build/da_assessment/environmental_assessment/commencement_of_the_planning_and_development_bilateral_agreement_amendment_act_2014_factsheet
The Planning and Development (Bilateral Agreement) Amendment Act 2014 can be found at: www.legislation.act.gov.au/b/db_50285/default.asp
The Planning and Development Act 2007 can be found at: www.legislation.act.gov.au/a/2007-24/default.asp