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The Property Council is pleased to have the opportunity to make some preliminary comments in response to the “Environment Assessment Review: Issues and Options 2002” report (“Report”) which has been released for public comment. The Property Council represents a broad range of interests within the property sector, including owners, project managers, etc, who from time to time have a major stake and interest in how effectively (or otherwise) the environmental impact assessment (“EIA”) process works in Victoria.
In terms of the problems with the existing Environment Effects Act 1978 (“Act”), there seems a consensus amongst the various stakeholders that this Act is now out of date and needs overhauling.
We refer here to the various concerns about the current EIA process under the Act listed at pages 9 to 11 of the Report. Clearly the current EIA process in Victoria is well behind best practice and causing problems for proponents and the public alike.
If the current EIA system is to be overhauled, it is essential that the reform is well thought out and implemented. While there needs to be appropriate public input into reforming the EIA system, the Government needs to show leadership and balance the sometimes competing demands of the different stakeholders in coming to a new EIA process.
If Victoria is to remain competitive in attracting national and international investment and major projects, and to develop infrastructure to meet the future needs of Victorians, the EIA system must be seen as fair and workable by proponents. The temptation otherwise will be for often “footloose” investors to redirect their funds and energies to other States with a more timely and efficient EIA process.