Recently, the Queensland Parliament voted to pass the Environmental Protection and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 (EPOLA Bill) as part of the Queensland Government’s greentape reduction reforms. EPOLA makes changes to the Environmental Offsets Act 2014 (EO Act). Read below extracts from two comments by Clayton Utz Lawyers and Property Council of Australia that summarize the major changes. Find following the Pdfs:
Summary of changes by Clayton Utz Lawyers
There are a number of positive elements for the industry in the new framework, particularly the simplification of five offsets policies being condensed into a single framework which applies to both the State Government and local governments. There are, however, significant concerns remaining regarding the potential for duplication to continue between offset requirements imposed by different levels of government.
The changes introduced as part of the EPOLA Bill aim to clarify the operation of the legislation. While some elements are clearer, and local governments will be permitted to charge less than the capped amount, we continue to hold concerns regarding the decision to exclude Commonwealth decisions of ‘not a controlled action’ and ‘not a controlled action– particular manner’ from the framework. By intentionally excluding these decisions, many proponents will continue to see duplication of offsets across levels of government.
Summary of changes by Property Council of Australia
The amendments to the Offsets Act make it mandatory for an administering agency to consider any relevant offset conditions that are already imposed on an authority issued under another Act for the same or substantially the same prescribed impact and prescribed environmental matter. The amendments clarify when a local government, as the administering agency, can impose an environmental offset condition and provides a process for removing duplicate offset conditions.
New provisions also clarify the process of how offsets are to be delivered and now provide that an agreed delivery arrangement may be entered into with an administering agency before or after an authority for a prescribed activity has been granted. This is aimed at providing greater flexibility in offset delivery, including staged offsets.
Under the amendments, until an agreed delivery arrangement has been entered into, no works that impact on the prescribed environmental matter to which the offset condition relates can start.