New Ground | Expert Environmental Consultants in Queensland

Stakeholder Consultation on Stage 3 of the Nature Positive Plan

On 16 April 2024, Minister Plibersek announced the progression of Stage 2 legislation to establish Environment Protection Australia, the statutory role of the Head of Environment Information Australia, and to provide for stronger compliance and enforcement. The Government is committed to legislating the remainder of the commitments in the Nature Positive Plan. Consultation with stakeholders will continue to ensure those commitments are delivered effectively in the third stage of the reforms. This will be followed by the release of the new laws for public consultation.

Key Consultation Areas

1. Assessment and Approvals System

The consultation will focus on providing clarity and certainty to proponents regarding assessment requirements, meeting standards, and determining which protected matters are under assessment. Specific topics include:

  • The scope of discretion in EPA decision-making.
  • Foundational settings such as the definition of critical protection areas, unacceptable impacts, and requirements for avoidance/mitigation.
  • The approach to call-in powers and associated Ministerial authority.

Next Steps:

  1. Update the approach to assessments and approvals based on stakeholder feedback and outcomes from ongoing implementation workshops.
  2. Test the updated approach with key stakeholders, refining it through additional workshops involving legal, environmental, and industry experts.
  3. Publish a paper outlining the updated approach for broad stakeholder feedback.

2. Restoration Contribution

Consultation will focus on developing implementation arrangements, particularly updates to the current Offsets calculator.

Next Steps:

  1. Continue early development and peer review of the updated restoration contributions calculator, engaging economic and ecological experts as well as state and territory representatives.
  2. Further develop and test the updated calculator through workshops with industry, environmental consultants, and organizations.
  3. Publish the draft updated calculator along with the revised Standard for Restoration Actions and Restoration Contributions for public feedback.

3. Standard for First Nations Engagement and Participation in Decision-making

The consultation will involve stakeholder testing of the first draft of the First Nations Standard, aiming to ensure clarity and effective interaction with the Standard for Community Engagement and Consultation.

Next Steps:

  1. Refine the draft First Nations Standard in collaboration with the First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance.
  2. Test the draft standard with key stakeholders through workshops, ensuring alignment with cultural heritage laws and the Native Title Act 1993, and ensuring provisions are workable for all proponents.
  3. Publish the draft First Nations Standard along with other revised draft standards for public feedback.

4. Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs)

Consultation will focus on appropriately applying national environmental standards to RFAs.

Next Steps:

  1. Conduct targeted consultation with relevant state governments, unions, industry, and environmental organisations.
  2. Publish a policy paper on applying national environmental standards to RFAs and seek public feedback on the legal mechanism, timing, and process.

5. Exemptions (Prior Authorisation and Continuing Use)

Consultation will aim to clarify actions covered by exemptions and determine when changed circumstances should limit the operation of an exemption.

Next Steps:

  1. Hold implementation workshops with impacted groups, including farming peak bodies, environmental organizations, and state and territory representatives, to refine and clarify the provisions.

6. Climate Change

Consultation will focus on feedback received regarding climate-related reforms and the interaction between environmental and climate laws.

Next Steps:

  1. Undertake consultation with a targeted representative group of stakeholders to test their recommendations and requests, determining if additional analysis is needed to support government decision-making.

In closing,

The Government is dedicated to engaging with a diverse range of stakeholders to gather various perspectives in the development of the Nature Positive Plan. By facilitating extensive consultation and feedback, the Government aims to ensure that the forthcoming reforms are well-informed and considerate of the broad spectrum of stakeholder interests. This inclusive approach is crucial for shaping effective and balanced environmental policies.

For further information, please visit the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water website.

Want a free checklist?

When Do you need to talk to an ecological consultant?

Sign up to our mailing list and get a copy!

We’ve made a simple self-help checklist to help you identify when you might want to get us involved. Engaging an ecological consultant for a property project is crucial for a multitude of reasons, but when do you need to pick up the phone for a chat?