Page 1607 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 7 May 2013

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EPBC approval expires. The exemption, therefore, will last for 18 months or for the duration of the EPBC approval, whichever is the longer.

In the absence of this proposed measure, the proponent making use of such a commonwealth study could need to make repeated applications to the minister for a section 211 waiver, notwithstanding that the commonwealth study is still current and deemed sufficient for an EPBC Act approval process. In practice, of course, such repeated applications are likely to be granted by the minister, given the continued currency of a commonwealth study. This existing requirement amounts to unnecessary red tape—or perhaps, as it has often more recently been known, green tape—a paper chase for no real purpose. If the study remains sufficient for the EPBC approval, then it should be deemed sufficient for the purposes of the ACT’s own environment impact assessment process and for the purposes of section 211 and the Planning and Development Act approval process.

In removing the need for repeated 211 applications in this circumstance, the measure aligns the 211 process and the broader development application process more effectively with the commonwealth EPBC Act process. The section 211 and development application process is also made more streamlined and efficient, and administrative duplication is removed. I am sure that this will be welcomed by government agencies and the private sector who are engaged in both the ACT’s and commonwealth’s environmental impact assessment processes.

In addition to improving efficiency, this amendment will help the territory to work in partnership with the commonwealth to deliver long-term projects. For example, the Molonglo valley urban development project has been subject to a strategic assessment under the EPBC Act. In this strategic assessment, the commonwealth has approved all actions associated with urban development in east Molonglo as described in the Molonglo valley plan for the protection of matters of national environmental significance. These actions must take place wholly within the strategic assessment area in east Molonglo. This approval applies to listed threatened species and communities and listed migratory species. The commonwealth approval has effect until 31 December 2041. This amendment will remove the need for multiple 211 applications over this period and align territory processes with the commonwealth process.

This is an amendment that makes good practical sense. It is important that I make clear, however, that there will still be public notification and consultation on the EPBC Act studies that are used to justify a section 211 waiver. This consultation is set out under the EPBC Act requirements. Both environmental impact statements and strategic assessments include a public consultation process. Under the EPBC Act, draft environmental impact statements must be subject to public consultation for at least 20 days. The finalised environmental impact statement must take into account any comments received during the consultation period.

Under the EPBC Act, a strategic assessment is an assessment of a policy, plan or program. As part of this process, a report must be prepared on the environmental impacts of the policy, plan or program. The draft report on the environmental impacts must be made available for public comment for at least 28 days, and when this report

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