16/10/2013 - 13:52

Mining lobby welcomes approvals reforms

16/10/2013 - 13:52

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The federal government has begun the process of establishing a so-called "one stop shop" for environmental approvals, announcing a three-stage framework for the process.

Mining lobby welcomes approvals reforms
Chamber of Minerals and Energy chief executive Reg Howard-Smith.

The federal government has begun the process of establishing a so-called ‘one-stop shop’ for environmental approvals, announcing a three-stage framework for the process.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt said today that the government would sign memorandums of understanding with each of the willing states confirming their cooperation and outlining key principles.

The government hopes to reach agreement on bilateral approvals with the willing states within 12 months.

The news comes as Premier Colin Barnett confirmed today that he had discussed environmental laws with Prime Minister Tony Abbott during a meeting in Perth. 

Mr Hunt said he expected the first memorandum of understanding to be signed shortly,

"This is about setting the highest standards, making swift decisions and delivering certain outcomes," he said.

"The government will also continue working with the states on approving strategic assessments, which provide a further simplification of the process for project approvals."

The plan was met with approval from the state's mining lobby groups, which have long called for the removal of duplication in the approvals process.

"An approvals framework which avoids unnecessary duplication and delivers certainty, efficiency and transparency of decision making process is vital to attract future investment in the resources sector," Chamber of Minerals and Energy chief executive Reg Howard-Smith said.

"The experience of recent federal environmental assessments of major resource projects has highlighted a lack of intergovernmental cooperation and unnecessary duplication which has resulted in drawn-out approval timelines and uncertainty for industry."

Association of Mining and Exploration Companies national policy manager Graham Short said the plan would help restore confidence and international competitiveness to the resources industry

‘‘The fact that the government has approved the framework for achieving a one-stop shop to streamline environmental approvals is a step forward for achieving a mutually beneficial arrangement for the states and the federal government," Mr Short said.

"Ultimately, accreditation of the states will remove duplication in the approvals process, making the system more efficient, reducing timelines and the cost of approvals for the mining sector and the federal government."

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