Covering the period 16 July 2000 to 30 June 2001
Environment Australia, 2001
ISBN 0 6425 4770 X
1. Protecting the environment
A key thrust of the early implementation of the Act was the development of bilateral agreements with State and Territory Governments. Bilateral agreements delegate to the States and Territories the responsibility for conducting environmental assessments and, in limited circumstances, the responsibility for deciding whether to grant approval. The focus to date has been on assessment bilateral agreements, which will accredit State and Territory environmental assessment processes and promote best practice assessment.
The first bilateral agreement to be signed under the Act was between the Commonwealth and Tasmanian Governments. The agreement accredits two of Tasmanian's environmental impact assessment processes - assessment under the State Policies and Projects Act 1993 and under the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994. Two proposals by Duke Energy International (Tasmania Holdings) Pty Ltd for the Tasmania Natural Gas Project, Stages 2 and 3 were being assessed under this bilateral agreement as of 30 June 2001.
Bilateral assessment agreements are also being developed with all other States and Territories, except South Australia which has indicated that it does not wish to enter into a bilateral agreement at this stage. Substantial progress was made during 2000-01 in negotiating the agreements, most of which are expected to be finalised before the end of 2001. In the meantime, the Commonwealth is able to minimise duplication of processes through case-by-case accreditation of State and Territory assessment processes where they meet the requirements of the Commonwealth. Seven controlled actions, including a wind farm in south-west Victoria (Pacific Hydro Ltd), the Mt Gibson Iron Ore Pellet Project in Western Australia (Asia Iron Pty Ltd), and the Twelve Mile Mineral Sand Mine in New South Wales (Murray Basin Titanium Pty Ltd), were being assessed in this way as of 30 June 2001.
Duplication with State/Territory processes was further reduced, where proposals had already been through an environmental impact assessment process in that State or Territory, by using the outputs from that assessment as preliminary documentation under Division 4 of Part 8 of the Act, provided they were sufficient to allow the Minister to make an informed decision on whether to approve the taking of an action. This approach expedited the Commonwealth approval process while still ensuring that the matters protected under the Act were adequately assessed.