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Environmental regulatory reform program
There is a recognised need for substantial reform of the Northern Territory’s environment protection framework. Reforms are long overdue and critical to achieving a robust regulatory system that the community will trust to ensure the Territory’s ecologically sustainable development, while encouraging industry investment and economic growth.
The NT Government has committed to a range of environmental reforms. These are outlined in the Healthy Environment, Strong Economy position paper.
Government and the NT Environmental Protection Authority (NT EPA) have received submissions from industry, non-government organisations and individuals on a range of other environmental related matters. These submissions often raised issues relating to the assessment or approvals system and the effectiveness of the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act. To honour the NT Government’s commitments and address the issues raise with the current environment management framework the NT Government has developed a two stage environmental reform program.
1 will address reforms to the environmental impact assessment system and
introduce an environmental approval to be issued by the Minister for
Environment and Natural Resources. This stage will also address reforms to the NT
EPA Act to improve the accountability of the NT EPA and to further define
its role in the environmental management system.
2 will address Government’s commitments to transform the Waste Management
and Pollution Control Act into a fully functioning Environment
Protection Act, and fold environmental provisions of the Mining
Management Act into the new Environment Protection Act. This stage
will also consider and address duplication in the environmental management
There have been a number of reviews of the NT’s environmental impact assessment and approvals system in recent years.
The most significant of these are:
- The Environment Protection Authority’s Final Advice on Improving Environmental Assessment in the Northern Territory (2010)
- Review of the Northern Territory Environmental Assessment and Approval Processes (2015)
- NT EPA’s Roadmap for a Modern Environmental Regulatory Framework for the Northern Territory (2017)
At the national scale there have been a number of reviews looking at environmental regulation, including the Australian Productivity Commission’s Major Project Development Assessment Processes (2013).
In addition, Government and the NT EPA have received submissions from industry, non-government organisations and individuals on a range of other environmental related matters. These submissions often raised issues relating to the assessment or approvals system. Examples include those submissions about:
- environmental impact assessment guidelines prepared by the NT EPA between 2013 and now
- advice prepared by the NT EPA including its Recommendations Concerning Preservation of the Threatened Biodiversity of the Howard Sand Plains Site of Conservation Significance (2015)
- the NT’s draft Balanced Environment Strategy
- the NT’s draft Petroleum (Environment) Regulations.
The NT Government has considered information from these sources, and others, to develop proposed reforms to the assessment and approvals system.
Building on and moving forward
To progress Stage 1 we have released the Environmental Regulatory Reform Discussion Paper. This paper is intended to provide a snapshot of the reform process for environmental impact assessment and project approvals. We acknowledge all of the work that has previously been undertaken by individuals and organisations in preparing submissions for Government. We have prepared this paper to build on that work and seek feedback on our direction. It identifies our understanding of your views about the existing assessment and approval system and how we intend to address issues you have previously raised and recommendations you have made. It also identifies those issues that we need more information about to help us develop new legislation. It identifies topics which have not been addressed in previous submissions and those for which there is not a clear path forward.
The updated 26 May 2017 figure 2 is now available
You are invited to give feedback about any matter discussed in this paper. You are also welcome to provide any comments on improvements to the environmental regulatory framework generally.
PUBLIC COMMENT CLOSES: Wednesday 28 June 2017
Last updated: 26 May 2017