Under national environmental law, developments that may have a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance need to be referred for assessment. After an initial assessment, a decision is made about whether the development can proceed, or whether it requires a more detailed environmental impact assessment before deciding whether it should be approved. States and territories also assess projects under their environmental laws. Through bilateral agreements the Australian Government can accredit some of those processes to reduce duplication.
An assessment bilateral agreement allows a state or territory to conduct a single environmental assessment process. At the completion of the assessment the state provides a report to the Australian Government assessing the likely impacts of the project on matters of national environmental significance.
Following the assessment stage, the state and the Australian Government each make a decision on project approval and conditions to meet differing requirements. This may result in two approval decisions and two sets of conditions.
Bilateral assessment agreements have been in place with all jurisdictions since 2015.
Under an approval bilateral agreement a state or territory assesses the likely impacts of a project on the environment and makes a decision on approval, accounting for both state matters and matters of national environmental significance. Only one decision and one set of conditions (if appropriate) is required before the project goes ahead..
The Australian Government is now putting in place approval bilateral agreements with states and territories.
Progress on bilateral agreements with each state or territory is published on the following pages: