What is Greentape Reduction Act?
Queensland Government is introducing the Environmental Protection (Greentape Reduction) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2012 (PDF)* (Greentape Reduction Act) which is a culmination of a two-year consultative process, the Greentape Reduction Project. The Greentape Reduction Project was set up by the Queensland Government to investigate government, community and corporate concerns about the complex regulatory process that has developed over time under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (EP Act). The project aims to streamline, integrate and coordinate regulatory requirements under the EP Act without compromising environmental outcomes. It is a contribution towards the government’s policy to reducing regulation and red tape by 20 percent.
The Greentape Reduction Act primarily amends the licensing framework under the EP Act. It introduces a staged application process to obtain environmental authorities (EA) for all environmentally relevant activities (ERAs) including prescribed ERAs and resource activities. Freeing up industry and government resources by reducing unnecessary costs of regulation will also allow a more focused and proportionate response to activities that present higher environmental risks.
Requirements in the Environmental Protection Regulation 2008 have also been amended as a result of the Greentape Reduction Act and amendments to the EP Act. Many of the regulatory requirements in Chapter 4 of the pre-amended Environmental Protection Regulation 2008 were moved into a new Schedule 5 of the Regulation, which separates the considerations to be made for EA decisions from the considerations for making a development permit decisions. This separation makes the approval process more flexible and clarifies the requirements for applications.
When will Greentape Reduction Act Commence?
The Greentape Reduction Act and amendments to the EP Act and Environmental Protection Regulation 2008 will take effect on 31 March 2013.
Greentape Reduction Act Impact on Businesses and Industry
The following list summarizes the key impacts on business and industry triggered by the Greentape Reduction Act:
- Provides an integrated approval process for all EAs (including resource activities and prescribed ERAs).
- Links information and notification stages of the EA assessment processes to the environmental impact statement (EIS) process as outlined in Chapter 3 of the EP Act. This will prevent duplication of information in the EA application and public notification processes.
- Identifies a more proportionate licensing framework for EAs, including standard applications for activities that have well understood and manageable environmental risks.
- Streamlines the resource tenure and EA approval processes.
- The EA will be linked to the resource tenure and will transfer automatically with the transfer of tenure, removing the need for transfer applications to be made under the EP Act.
- Holders of two or more EAs can apply for an amalgamated corporate authority (corporate license) for all activities.
- Removes the need for an environmental management plan (EMP) for resource activities; these requirements will instead be included in the application process.
- Revises the plan of operations.
- Plan of operations for standard / small mining operations (previously known as level 2 mines) are no longer required.
- EAs associated with a petroleum lease will now be required to have a plan of operations instead of an operational plan.
- As a current holder of an EA for a mining or a Chapter 5A activity, the holder is automatically registered as a suitable operator.
- In draft amendments to the Regulations includes new fees to reflect processes introduced by the Greentape Reduction Act (e.g. changing an application, amalgamating EAs transferring EAs and converting EA conditions to standard conditions, becoming an auditor).
Amendments to the Environmental Protection Regulation 2008 will provide the following benefits to business and industry:
- Deletion of 20 ERA thresholds from Schedule 2 of the Environmental Protection Regulation 2008 will ensure new businesses no longer require an approval under the EP Act to operate in Queensland. In addition, once these ERA thresholds are deleted, existing operators will no longer be required to pay an annual fee.
- The revised definition of an ERA now includes resource activities (geothermal, greenhouse gas storage, mining and petroleum activities), allowing applicants to identify these activities in an EA application.
- Reducing the annual fee by half for small sewage treatment plant license holders will ensure small tourism operators are not financially burdened by environmental license fees.
- Operators will be able to amend operational conditions on their EA for a number of nominated ERAs without triggering a development application requirement under the Sustainable Planning Regulation 2009.
- Alignment of the decision making regulatory requirements to environmental objectives with clear performance outcomes will make it easier to prepare applications for an EA.
- Transfer of responsibility for administration of ERA 4 – Poultry farming from local governments to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry will improve access to relevant expertise.
These initiatives will benefit up to 9,400 small to medium sized businesses, saving an estimated $6.18 million in annual fees for industry.
When will Greentape Reduction guidance material be available?
A quick guide to the Greentape Reduction Act is currently available online and on 2 April 2013. New materials will be published on the Business and Industry Portal including application forms and additional guidance material.
Can I provide feedback to EHP?
Yes, the following draft standard conditions (together with the supporting risk assessments) are currently open for public comment:
- Draft eligibility criteria and standard conditions for petroleum exploration activities (PDF, 394K) are open for public comment until 15 April 2013.
- Draft eligibility criteria and standard conditions for geothermal exploration activities (PDF, 480K) are open for public comment until 22 April 2013.
- Draft eligibility criteria and standard conditions for pipelines (PDF, 480K) are open for public comment until 22 April 2013.
- Draft eligibility criteria and standard conditions for petroleum survey activities (PDF, 246K) are open for public comment until 22 April 2013.
Submission and comments can be provided to the department online (www.getinvolved.qld.gov.au ) and via email (email@example.com ). After public consultation, the chief executive of the department will then decide whether to make eligibility criteria and standard conditions for the activity.
How can I stay informed?
An online Greentape Reduction Newsletter is provided by EHP.
Where can I get more information?