The Queensland Government has released a discussion paper announcing its intention to reduce 'Green Tape' for business and government by providing a streamlined regulatory process. The paper, released on 23 May 2011 is the precursor to legislative reforms designed to clarify, but simplify processes for obtaining and amending environmental approvals under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (EP Act).
The Government has recognised that a complex regulatory system not only impacts industry but unnecessarily complex regulatory procedures can undermine industry will to comply with environmental standards.
The discussion paper comprises the second phase of the 'Green Tape' reduction project following consultation with industry bodies. The discussion paper proposes reforms that will apply to the State's mining and petroleum industries and any other industry sectors that trigger environmental approval thresholds.
The key aim of the Green Tape reduction project is to reduce costs to industry and government of environmental regulation while upholding environmental standards for the community.
For mining, resource and petroleum companies, the key points from the discussion paper are:
For all industry sectors which trigger thresholds, the changes will mean:
The Government also proposes to improve guidance as to materials required to be submitted with an application, prioritise information required in the application process so that information of a non controversial technical nature may be provided at later stages and to introduce a system of third party certification to replace full departmental review in certain circumstances.
The draft legislation to support the proposals in the discussion paper has not yet been released. The detail of the proposed changes is set out in the discussion paper 'Green Tape Reduction - Reforming Licensing under the Environmental Protection Act 1994'.
The final date for submissions on the proposed changes is 1 July 2011.
The Queensland Government also released on 31 May 2011 an announcement of its Strategic Cropping Land Policy. The policy framework is aimed at identifying Queensland's best cropping land and excluding development which may impact on its production capacity. It will impact on developments such as underground coal gasification, mining and urbanisation which will be assessed under the new framework. We will have a summary and commentary on that paper available for clients shortly.
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