28/01/2009 - 22:00

Action needed on approvals

28/01/2009 - 22:00

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CONSULTING engineers across Perth are calling on state and local governments to urgently improve the approvals process for the development of projects throughout Western Australia, amid soaring costs to business.

Action needed on approvals

CONSULTING engineers across Perth are calling on state and local governments to urgently improve the approvals process for the development of projects throughout Western Australia, amid soaring costs to business.

Engineers and their design teams are finding it increasingly difficult to get projects off the ground due to red tape at all levels.

It's hardly a new complaint, however, with those at the roundtable indicating the situation has remained unchanged and unimproved for more than two decades.

Association of Consulting Engineers Australia national president and Parsons Brinkerhoff regional director, Paul Reed, admits he is cynical about the current approvals process, due to the lack of action from numerous governments.

"I've seen every state government for the last 20 years say they were going to sort out the approvals process and I've never seen any progress forward," Mr Reed said.

"It seems to go in the opposite direction.

"I support the view that it has to be improved and something has to be done about the whole-of-government approach to approvals."

The situation has got to the point in recent years that ACEA (WA) division chair David Porter believes the new state government must act immediately.

"It is of the utmost emergency to sort these approval timeframes out," Mr Porter said.

"Land development and buildings, anything to do with the planning requirement or approvals, gets caught in this bureaucratic approval process.

"From large, multi-million dollar projects down to Mrs Smith subdividing her backyard, it just takes an inordinate amount of time and effort and resources which could be spent on other things."

Mr Porter emphasised that developers and investors are suffering from these excessive delays.

"These guys are hurting because even if they've got established loans the lending agencies are being very rigid on payments and returns and conditions, so it can cost investors thousands of dollars a day in interest while one approval or clearance doesn't take place," Mr Porter said.

And it's certainly not limited to one industry.

Motherwell Automation principal Jon Swire-Thompson sympathises with the oil and gas sector, which is plagued with approvals and processing problems.

"Talk about the too-hard basket. I mean it's really impossible stuff," Mr Swire-Thompson said.

"The red tape is with Native Title, EPA approval ... and what the state government can do is go through that if it wants to go forward."

GHD business group manager transportation, Ashley Wright strongly believes a better integrated, and much better resourced approvals authority would help the situation dramatically.

"When we find ourselves having to make five, six, seven, eight submissions to different approvals authorities all with a slightly different focus ... it becomes very difficult," Mr Wright said.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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