In November 2013, the Commonwealth and NSW Governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to streamline the assessment and approvals process for NSW projects that impact on matters of national environmental significance under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
The MOU proposes a ‘one-stop-shop’ for assessment and approvals of these projects, to remove duplication, inject greater certainty into the decision making process and speed-up decision making time frames.
To achieve this more streamlined approach, the two governments will enter into bilateral agreements.
The exhibition of the first bilateral agreement, which accredits NSW to conduct a single environmental assessment process for NSW projects that have to be considered under the EPBC Act, concluded on 18 December 2013. The bilateral agreement has now been signed by the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and the NSW Minister for Planning & Infrastructure. A copy of the submissions report can be found at: http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/environment-protection/environment-assessments/bilateral-agreements/nsw
By April 2014, the two governments have agreed to develop a second bilateral agreement, which will accredit NSW to oversee both the assessment and approval of these projects.
The existing robust environmental protection measures will continue under this new approach.
Joint Commonwealth and NSW media release