We are streamlining environmental assessments and approvals. This relates to the assessment and approval of any action that may have a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance.
Under single touch, we will establish bilateral agreements and accredit state and territory processes to conduct environmental approvals of Commonwealth protected matters. This means many projects will no longer require separate approval under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). New National Environmental Standards, initially reflecting the existing requirements of the EPBC Act, will underpin single touch approvals.
This will improve environmental outcomes while providing greater efficiency for business by reducing unnecessary duplication.
Streamlining environmental approvals was a key recommendation of the independent review of the EPBC Act.
Assessment bilateral agreements have been in place with all jurisdictions since 2015.
We are currently putting in place approval bilateral agreements to complement these arrangements. These approval bilateral agreements will seek to maximise the number of approvals being made by the states and territories while maintaining environmental standards.
We will continue to approve some actions, including:
- Commonwealth actions
- actions on Commonwealth land
- actions in Commonwealth marine areas.
Strong environmental standards
National Environmental Standards will make the existing rules under the EPBC Act clear.
Standards will ensure that strong environmental protection will be provided regardless of whether the Australian Government or one of the state or territory governments approves a development.
The Australian Government will provide strong oversight of the implementation of the Standards, including rigorous monitoring of accredited state and territory environmental assessment and approval processes. This will provide assurance that the Standards are being maintained and Australia is meeting its international obligations relating to the environment and heritage.