Australia to establish independent Environment Protection Agency
Australia will establish an independent environment protection agency that will have powers to decide on the approvals of resource development projects. The new Environment Protection Agency (EPA) will be responsible for all project assessments and decisions but the federal environment minister will retain the power to review EPA approvals, Reuters reported.
The announcement of the new agency was made by Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said on Dec. 8.
“What exists now isn't working. Our environmental laws are broken. They don’t work for business, they don’t protect the environment. What we are seeking is a win-win - a win for the environment and a win for business,” Plibersek told reporters.
Plibersek said businesses were waiting “too long” for decisions and that the proposed changes will also cut red tape, streamlining the project assessment process.
The opposition Liberal-National coalition said it supported steps to protect the environment but the government’s plans have “unworkable regulations which will strangle businesses across the country.”
Environment groups welcomed the government’s decision, though WWF-Australia flagged concerns about a lack of urgency.
“On the government’s own timetable, the reform package will be introduced into the parliament before the end of 2023, which means it is unlikely to be implemented until 2024,” Chief Conservation Officer Rachel Lowry said.