Congestion busting for environmental assessments

Media release

21 November 2019

Communities, environmental groups and businesses will have greater transparency over the progress of major environmental projects as the Morrison government focusses on deregulation reform.

Projects will be more clearly tracked with quarterly results published on the Department of Environment and Energy website.

The Prime Minister last night announced our plans for a national digital transformation program commencing with an initial partnership with the West Australian Government. This will mean access to one online portal to submit an application through both tiers of Government and access to a single database of biodiversity studies that can, in turn, be rolled out nationally.

The biodiversity database will provide better access to information such as wildlife surveys, allow faster and more comprehensive data for project assessments, and provide a baseline that can be used by Government to better measure conservation outcomes.

The partnership will lay the foundation for a national system that will reduce the current 3.5 year time frame taken to assess major projects and the estimated $300 million cost to the economy, while maintaining all safeguards under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

At the same time, we are investing $25 million in reducing unnecessary delays within the existing assessment system, including the establishment of a major projects team to ensure assessments can be completed efficiently and thoroughly in accordance with the Act.

These immediate measures take place as Professor Graeme Samuel AC releases his discussion paper later today on the statutory review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

I encourage all Australians to have their say on this important review over the next twelve months.

The review is a fundamental commitment to environmental protection and to ensuring that major business projects are managed within strict environmental boundaries.

Anyone who is interested can track the progress of a project and the assessment process by visiting the updated website epbcnotices.environment.gov.au/publicnoticesreferrals. The website will also provide information about the Department’s current workload and performance.

Minister for the Environment