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NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
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On 26 February 2015, the Commonwealth and NSW governments signed an agreement under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (EPBC Act) relating to environmental assessment.


The Bilateral Agreement commits the NSW Government to:

  • Undertake an assessment of impact to matters of national environmental significance (MNES) through the NSW Assessment process
  • Provide clear recommendations and consideration of the legal requirements for decision making under the EPBC Act in the NSW State Assessment Report.


Amending the Bilateral Agreement

The Australian Government has published a Notice of Intent to amend the existing Bilateral Agreement with the NSW Government. A draft Amending Agreement was released for public comment on the Department of Environment and Energy’s website between 11 January and 21 February 2019. Submissions on the draft amendments to the bilateral have now closed.


It is necessary to amend the Bilateral Agreement to account for recent legislative change in New South Wales, namely the commencement of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (Biodiversity Conservation Act) and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment Act 2018 (EP&A Act).


Both governments remain committed to a streamlined development assessment process, while maintaining strong standards for environmental protection.


Transitional arrangements

The current bilateral agreement remains operational and will continue to be used for certain projects that are being assessed under the transitional arrangements provided for under NSW legislation.


Further information on transitional projects can be accessed on the Office of Environment and Heritage's website.


Other projects that are not subject to these transitional arrangements can be assessed under an accredited assessment in accordance with section 87 of the Commonwealth EPBC Act. This will be managed on a case-by-case basis.


Proponents with an existing development application, or that are soon to lodge an application can seek advice from the Department on transitional arrangements relating to individual projects.


Specific queries about transitional arrangements relating to biodiversity offsets can be discussed with the Office of Environment and Heritage.


Transitional Review

The assessment bilateral agreement requires a review of the objects of the agreement to identify if they were being achieved after 12 months of operation. As limited projects had been assessed under the agreement in the first 12 months of operation, a Transitional Review was undertaken by the Australian Government to review 24 months of operation.


The Review was published in August 2017 by the Australian Government and details the success of the agreement, along with areas where the agreement’s operation could be improved. View the Transitional Review here.


More information about the bilateral agreement and the EPBC Act is available on the Australian Department of Environment and Energy’s website.



Page last updated: 27/06/2019