Certain developments in NSW require approval under both the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) and the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (EPBC Act). Further information about what projects need approval under the EPBC Act can be found on the Commonwealth Department of Environment and Energy website.
The Commonwealth and NSW governments have signed a bilateral agreement under the EPBC Act that establishes a one stop shop for environmental assessment in NSW. The bilateral agreement accredits certain NSW processes for assessment which allows the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and Energy to rely on specified NSW environmental impact assessment processes in assessing actions under the EPBC Act.
Under the bilateral agreement, the NSW Government will use its best endeavours to inform proponents that an action may need to be referred to the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth, in consultation with the NSW Government, will then make a determination about whether the action is a ‘controlled action’ under the EPBC Act that requires approval. The NSW Government will confirm whether the action can be assessed under the bilateral agreement
The NSW Government will then undertake an assessment of the development proposal and in doing so will ensure that there is sufficient information in its State Assessment Report on each relevant matter of National Environmental Significance (MNES) so that the Commonwealth can consider those impacts and make a decision whether to approve the action.
When NSW provides the Commonwealth with its State Assessment Report, it will also make a recommendation to the Commonwealth Minister about whether the action should be approved and, if so, what conditions (if any) should be attached to manage the impacts on MNES.
The bilateral agreement commenced on 26 February 2015 and remains in operation.
The Commonwealth Government has published a Notice of Intent to develop a new bilateral agreement with the NSW Government that will take account of recent legislative changes in New South Wales, namely the commencement of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.
The current bilateral agreement remains operational and will continue to be used for projects that are being assessed under the transitional arrangements under the Biodiversity Conservation Act.
The bilateral agreement applies to certain major projects under the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act). This includes State Significant Infrastructure (SSI) and State Significant Development (SSD) projects and modifications that are determined to require assessment and approval under the EPBC Act. The bilateral agreement also extends to applications made under Part 5 of the EP&A Act.
The bilateral agreement allows the state to conduct environmental assessments on behalf of the Commonwealth, removing duplication including the need for a separate Commonwealth assessment.
The key benefits for proponents results in:
More information is available here:
For further information on the NSW Bilateral Agreement, contact Service NSW 13 77 88
Page last updated: 24/10/2017