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Brilliant minds finding solutions to complex problems, made easy to understand. Making complex easy.

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What Australia's proposed new Nature Positive Laws could spell for industry?

New environmental laws are in the pipeline, with the Federal government planning to replace the existing Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) with Nature Positive Laws.  

25 January 2024 | 3 min read

Three elements of the proposed policy in the spotlight

RPS’ Megan Davis, General Manager - Cairns says our current national environmental laws are outdated. 

“We agree that our environmental laws need to be reviewed to ensure that the environment is properly protected, particularly considering increasing pressure from new industries, and the ongoing effects of climate change.”    

The proposed Nature Positive Laws are intended to simplify and streamline regulatory processes. 

“We’re expecting this to be a step forward for our clients with faster decision-making and de-risking of projects anticipated, while at the same time arresting the decline in our natural environment. However, as with any change, there is likely to be a period of transition, and potentially some initial obstacles,” explains Megan.  

“By moving towards an independent agency in the form of Environment Protection Australia (EPA), we welcome the notion of more transparency around environmental permits, and approvals based on high-quality data," she adds.  

RPS Senior Spatial Analyst Robert Suansri adds, “in addition to the EPA, the establishment of a Data Division will enhance the decision-making process with improved access to authoritative high-quality data. This strongly matches with our geospatial services in ensuring project approvals are based on the best available information.”    

“We strongly support decision-making based on robust environmental data. This solid proposed policy direction will enable our clients to better understand the impact of their projects on our habitat and species.” 

According to Kate Eskdale, National Lead, Communications and Engagement, these reforms also strongly align with another key RPS service: community engagement

“RPS is committed to facilitating meaningful dialogue between projects and people, and these proposed laws encourage developers to seek community feedback early on in project development, so this can be reflected in project designs.”

In announcing this move, the government is also prioritising First Nations engagement and participation in decision-making. 

“One of the key features of this proposed legislation is that Indigenous voices, their views, and knowledge will take centre stage in project design and regulatory decision-making – which is brilliant,” says Kate. 

“At RPS, we recognise the importance of Country, and value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge. This is reflected in our Reconciliation Action Plan. The government’s inclusion of First Nations engagement and decision-making in its six National Environmental Standards is certainly a step in the right direction.”   
  
This is the largest proposed change to Australia's national environmental laws since the introduction of the EPBC Act in the year 2000.

The proposed changes opened for consultation in October 2023, with targeted stakeholder groups made up of experts from environment, business, and industry. In November 2023, public consultation began with two webinars. The consultation period is expected to close 30 March 2024. 

RPS can help provide advice on how to target submissions during the public consultation period and help navigate what these changes will mean for your project once they are in effect.

 

 

About RPS

Founded in 1970, RPS, A Tetra Tech Company (RPS) is a leading global professional services firm of 5,000 consultants and service providers. Operating in 125 countries, working across six continents we define, design and manage projects that create shared value to a complex, urbanising and resource-scarce world.

RPS delivers a broad range of services in six sectors: property, energy, transport, water, defence and government services and resources. Services provided across RPS' six sectors cover twelve service clusters: project and program management, design and development, water services, environment, advisory and management consulting, exploration and development, planning and approvals, health, safety and risk, oceans and coastal, laboratories, training and communications, creative and digital services.

RPS stands out for its clients by using its deep expertise to solve problems that matter, making them easy to understand. Making complex easy.

For further information, please visit www.rpsgroup.com.