26 October, 2011

Major overhaul of environmental approvals cuts green tape

Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister for State Development and Trade

The Honourable Andrew Fraser

Major overhaul of environmental approvals cuts green tape

The most significant reform to Queensland's environmental approvals system in the past 15 years has today been introduced into State Parliament, giving the economy the opportunity to save at least $12.5 million a year.

Deputy Premier Andrew Fraser said amendments to the Environmental Protection Act were designed to increase the efficiency of the environmental approvals system and cut green tape while at the same time maintaining Queensland's rigorous environmental standards.

"These amendments will streamline the process for Queensland businesses to obtain certain environmental approvals," Mr Fraser said.

"Today we introduce new, innovative ways of delivering environmental requirements - changes that will result in savings for business and government of at least $12.5 million a year and, for the average small business, savings of $20,000.

"They will significantly reduce costs for industry and government while upholding the rigorous environmental standards the community expects.

"Queensland's unique environment is an asset that requires a unique system of protection."

Environment Minister Vicky Darling said since the Environmental Protection Act was introduced in 1994, environmental regulation had grown significantly.

"But while this was out of necessity to protect our environment, reflecting increased public awareness and scientific developments, we now have an opportunity to consolidate the system and make it more efficient," Ms Darling said.

"Greentape reduction is about reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens, such as time wasted in lengthy application processes."

Ms Darling said the introduction of standard applications would reduce costs and increase certainty in application processes for low environmental risk operations.

"An average small business is expected to save over $20,000 in application costs from this initiative alone.

"Businesses will be able to hold corporate licenses to manage their environmental authorities for multiple sites in an integrated way just like they manage their businesses.

"These reforms will simplify the relationship between environmental licenses and development permits meaning an operator will only need to pay for their annual fees once their development permit is approved.

"All businesses, including waste management, manufacturing, extractive industries and intensive livestock industries, who are currently required to be licensed under the Environmental Protection Act will benefit from these improvements.

"However, these reforms are not at the expense of environmental protection and all businesses will have to meet the environmental standards expected by the community to protect Queensland's unique environment."

Following full rollout of the changes it is expected that more than half of the 2,500 applications the Environment Department receives annually - and most local government applications - will be standard, saving approval time for both industry and government.

The changes are the result of the government's Greentape Reduction project, a two-year overhaul involving comprehensive consultation with industry and the community.

Through the Queensland Government's Smart Regulatory Reform Agenda, the Government is committed to reducing the regulatory burden of business and the administrative burden of government by $150 Million each year by the end of 2013.

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