Minister slashes green tape

Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection
The Honourable Andrew Powell

Minister slashes green tape

Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection, Andrew Powell, today announced the Newman government’s plan to cut green tape that has suffocated small businesses and cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

“After consulting with industry in the lead up to and after the March 2012 election, it is evident that clear businesses need certainty to invest and flexibility to allow for growth. The amendments I have introduced this week will deliver just that,” Mr Powell said.

“The LNP government is staring down the barrel of a $2.8 billion deficit and an $85 billion debt left by Labor and it is crucial that we work with industry, particularly with the small business sector, to rebuild our economy,” he said.

“The Newman government has a mandate to cut regulation and red tape by 20 per cent, and the changes I’m announcing today will go a long way towards that.”

“Currently, most Environmental Approvals must go through a ‘one size fits all’ site assessment.

“These changes to legislation will offer three ways to apply for approval of environmentally relevant activities (ERAs) – including an automatic approval process – depending on the size and environmental risk posed by business activities.

“The Bill will cut 90 pages from reduction in the Environmental Protection Act, replacing duplicated provisions with a single clear process.”

Mr Powell said he had consulted with industry, community and environmental groups and taken their views on board in drafting the Bill.

“Amendments to the approval process will see the timing of public notification changed so that it occurs earlier in the assessment process,” he said.

“This will reduce assessment timeframes by around three months and allow communities to express any concerns about an application to make sure environmental outcomes are delivered.

“Let me be clear, this is in no way a weakening of environmental protection laws or environmental conditions. Rather, this Bill is aimed at streamlining administrative process without reducing or removing any environmental standards that businesses are required to meet.”

“It is estimated that following full implementation in March 2013, around half of all ERAs (around 410 applications a year) will be able to go through the standard (automatic) application process, saving each applicant an average of $20,000 in application preparation costs, 68 days in processing time and 150 pages in avoided application materials.”

“This will cut Queensland’s green tape burden by approximately 62,000 pages per year.”

Businesses as varied as wooden product manufacturing to waste transfer stations will benefit from the bill.

Further, around 2,400 small mining operators will no longer have to complete a 15 page administrative requirement. This will lead to a reduction of 36,000 pages of unnecessary green tape that does not in any way compromise environmental outcomes.

Overall, the Green tape Bill is estimated to save Queensland businesses $11.7 million each year.

“This is the first tranche of regulatory simplification as there is scope to further streamline environmental legislation and reduce green tape,” Mr Powell said.

“The changes will make it easier and cheaper for small business to be established in Queensland and will reduce the burden on businesses as they grow, allowing for further investment and job creation.”

“For my department, these changes will significantly reduce processing times, which will free up resources that can be directed to frontline services to ensure the ongoing protection of Queensland’s environment.”

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