30/06/2009 - 11:31

MCA calls for project approval overhaul

30/06/2009 - 11:31

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The Minerals Council of Australia has called for a more efficient and effective project approvals process following the release of an interim report into the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

MCA calls for project approval overhaul

The Minerals Council of Australia has called for a more efficient and effective project approvals process following the release of an interim report into the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.

The Council's report identified substantial duplication and a lack of coordination between state and Commonwealth approvals processes with little benefit to the environment and significant costs to the taxpayers and industry.

"The minerals industry spends millions of dollars per year meeting the significant administrative requirements of the
EPBC Act and state approvals processes," the Council's Mitch Hooke said.

"There is no evidence the Commonwealth's administration of EPBC Act, separate to the States, delivers improved environmental outcomes above those achieved through existing State processes."

The Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) said the Council's report reinforced its findings of the recent Productivty Commission report into the upstream oil and gas industry.

APPEA's report found the industry was groaning under the "dead weight of regulatory inefficiency".

APPEA chief executive Belinda Robinson said both reports found red tape was "diminishing the present value of petroleum resource extraction in Australia by billions of dollars each year".

"This is the second report in just three months to find that regulatory inefficiencies are costing Australia's economy without any policy benefit," she added.

The Minerals Council has recommended a model for improved efficiency which includes the removal of the Commonwealth's project-by-project approval processes and the establishment and implementation of bilateral agreements for assessment processes.

The model also recommends the establishment of regional planning instruments that meet EPBC Act requirements
and Commonwealth activities being focussed more on strategic investment and planning support.

 

 

Both announcements are below:

 

MINERALS COUNCIL

The release of today's interim report on the operation of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation
(EPBC) Act highlights the urgent need for more efficient and effective project approvals processes.

The report has identified significant duplication and a lack of coordination between State and Commonwealth approvals processes. This regulatory burden delivers little if any additional benefits to the environment, yet imposes
significant costs to the taxpayer and industry.

The minerals industry spends millions of dollars per year meeting the significant administrative requirements of the
EPBC Act and state approvals processes. There is no evidence the Commonwealth's administration of EPBC Act,
separate to the States, delivers improved environmental outcomes above those achieved through existing State
processes.

The Minerals Council of Australia has recommended a model for improved environmental outcomes and regulatory
efficiency for the EPBC Act. This includes eliminating duplication by refocusing the Commonwealth's administration of the Act to strategic guidance within which the States would assess individual projects. This would include:

- the removal of the Commonwealth from project-by-project approval processes;

- the establishment and full implementation of bilateral agreements for assessment processes;

- establishment and endorsement of regional planning instruments that meet EPBC Act protection requirements
under bilateral approvals, whereby other jurisdictions then subsequently review and regulate projects; and

- Commonwealth activities being focussed more appropriately on strategic investment and planning support
and assessing outcomes through monitoring and auditing compliance.

Resolving the systemic inefficiencies in the administration of the Act should be a priority before additional layers of
regulation including climate change and water use triggers are considered by the Federal Government.

As the Act is currently framed, any project that is likely to have significant greenhouse gas emissions or water use
impacts would ordinarily be referred to the Federal Environment Minister due to impacts on other matters of national
environmental significance. A second layer of climate change or water use triggers would only add to the regulatory
burden of the EPBC Act.

The State and Commonwealth Governments are committed to reducing business red-tape and today's interim report
reveals that little progress has been made in relation to project approvals.

The report clearly illustrates that there are no grounds for increasing regulation as there are adequate existing
protection mechanisms for matters of national environmental significance under the EPBC Act.

Changes to the administration of the EPBC Act would facilitate improved environmental outcomes and greatly reduce the red tape burden on business.

 

APPEA's announcement:

The Interim Report on the Operation of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, released today reinforces the findings of the recent Productivity Commission report that Australia's upstream oil and gas industry is groaning under the dead weight of regulatory inefficiency.

The Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association, Chief Executive Belinda Robinson said the findings of this report support the results of a recent Productivity Commission review that found red tape is 'diminishing the present value of petroleum resource extraction in Australia by billions of dollars each year'.

"This is the second report in just three months to find that regulatory inefficiencies are costing Australia's economy without any policy benefit.

Today's interim report found 'there is no doubt that there is duplication in the regulation of upstream petroleum related activities insofar as they relate to management of impacts on the environment. There is a need to minimise this regulatory overburden for its own sake as well as in having regard to the Government's policy of deregulation'.

APPEA supports the report's inclination to resist the incorporation of a greenhouse gas trigger into the EPBC where there is a CPRS in place. The report states:

'There may be an argument for a greenhouse trigger where there is no price signal, for example emissions from native vegetation clearance. However, if a CPRS is introduced in the relatively near future, this review would not support the creation of a broad based greenhouse gas trigger'.

Ms Robinson said that Australia currently has over $200 billion worth of oil and gas projects on the drawing board with the potential for creating 60,000 jobs nationwide. Reform of regulatory duplication will take us one step closer to transforming project plans into reality".

"A global recession, increasing unemployment and falling business investment makes action to address barriers to investment, growth and job creation a top priority for everyone.

"APPEA will continue to engage constructively with this important review process and we look forward to the completion of the review, the release of the final report later this year, and a timely program of implementation" said Ms Robinson.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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