The Queensland Government has announced two significant initiatives to reduce green tape and put money back into the pockets of thousands of Queensland small businesses.
Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection Andrew Powell said the government would delete 20 environmentally relevant activity (ERA) thresholds, contributing to its drive to reduce regulation and green tape by 20 per cent.
“Amendments to the Environmental Protection Regulation 2008 will mean that, from 31 March, more than 9,400 small business operators will no longer need to apply for a licence or pay an application fee, and no longer need to submit an annual return,” Mr Powell said.
“These changes represent the most significant reform to licensing processes in more than a decade.
“ERA thresholds for activities that do not pose a high environmental risk, such as motor vehicle workshops, printing and abrasive blasting were deleted following extensive consultation with industry.
“After that consultation, it was clear that businesses need certainty to invest and flexibility to allow for growth. The amendments will deliver just that.
“The government has also halved fees for small sewage treatment plant operators which will ease the financial pressures on small tourism businesses like B&B’s and caravan parks.
“These changes will save small businesses more than $6 million in annual fees, and will let them get on with what they do best—contribute to a thriving economy and generating jobs without lowering environmental standards or protection.
“Although businesses conducting these activities will no longer need to obtain an environmental approval, they must still uphold environmental standards”.
Mr Powell said the environmental standards would be enforced under a new Regulatory Strategy which reflected a fundamental shift in the way environmental and heritage regulatory activities were undertaken.
“It will make it quicker for companies to get environmental approvals, enable departmental officers to spend more time inspecting licensed sites to make sure they are complying with their approvals, and take swift, strong action where needed to enforce the law,” he said.
“It also means environmental regulation is an enabler of, not a roadblock to, sustainable development.
“Together, these two major developments mean the government’s high environmental standards are maintained whilst unnecessary red tape is removed.
“Industry will be able to take greater responsibility for its environmental performance, and the department will be consistent in taking prompt, strong action against operators who choose not to comply with these standards.
“We want to work with industry and the community to protect Queensland’s unique environment and heritage places, and this strategy represents a commitment to strong environmental management supporting sustainable development.”