A policy exemption will allow renewable energy aspirants to secure a Crown land lease option in WA before their projects have received EPA approval.
A policy exemption will allow renewable energy aspirants to secure a Crown land lease option in Western Australia before their projects have received Environmental Protection Authority approval.
The tweak will give lands minister John Carey the ability to grant a lease option to companies while their EPA proposals are under assessment, in a bid to cut green tape.
Mr Carey said the change was designed to make the process of developing a renewables project in WA easier.
“This new streamlined process means government can provide renewable energy proponents greater confidence to invest here – further highlighting WA’s leading role in a decarbonised future,” he said.
The move follows the passage of the Land and Public Works Amendment Act in March, which introduced the ability for the government to grant diversification leases for renewables projects.
Environment minister Reece Whitby said the new policy was developed off the back of stakeholder consultation.
“We have listened to the feedback from proponents and investors and found an innovative approach to ensure these renewable energy projects are able to progress in a timely manner,” he said.
The granting of an exemption order to facilitate an early lease will not impact or accelerate the EPA’s environmental assessment process, according to the state.
“We are not making any changes to the due diligence or responsibilities of the EPA or the minister for lands through this reform,” he said.
“These changes will simply reduce government approvals timeframes for projects that can meet their environmental requirements, while preserving the due diligence responsibilities required by the EPA.”
The policy change is part of a state commitment to improving the green energy approvals pathway.
When the initiative was announced in July, more than 40 green energy projects were under assessment or being regulated by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, with more than 30 expected to be referred for assessment over the coming 12 months.
Renewable hydrogen proposals made up the bulk of those in the pipeline.
Land is of particular importance to the renewables industry, a factor touched on the state’s recent consultation paper released as part of its hydrogen strategy review.
As highlighted in the current edition of Business News, the paper highlighted the competing interest for WA land from conservation, mining, industrial and pastoral uses.
In the same piece, Horizon Power chief executive Stephanie Unwin highlighted approvals as one of the key challenges facing the new energy sector.
The policy tweak comes the same day as the launch of a new $60 million round of the state’s investment attraction fund targeting the new energy sector.
A further $74 million will be invested in a range of net zero initiatives under the sectorial emissions reduction strategies process launched in December 2021.
That will include $11.2 million into the clean energy future fund to support emissions reduction projects and $6.5 million to the green energy approvals unit in a bid to combat green tape.
A $31 million investment in government-trading enterprise Horizon will be put towards community batteries in regional locations, and energy storage trials at microgrid locations.
A new team will also be established within Horizon to deliver renewable energy across regional locations.
EV chargers will be installed at new Metronet stations at a cost of $2.2 million.
The renewables announcements come a day out from the WA Energy Transition Summit in Perth, co-hosted by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia and the state government.