PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Western Australian government has announced a A$22.5-million investment to overhaul environmental approvals in order to shorten the approval timeframes for green energy projects.
A new multi-pronged approach will help to drive investment in conventional wind, solar and wave power generators, hydrogen industries, lithium mining and critical minerals processing, and green energy product manufacturing, the government said on Tuesday.
A new dedicated cross-government Green Energy Assessment Unit will be established within the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, requiring state government agencies to work together to develop clear assessment pathways and provide high-quality, fit-for-purpose, timely support for proponents and investors.
Work to establish the group will commence immediately, and it is expected to be operational by mid next year.
The state government will work to develop and implement novel assessment processes for green energy projects, to facilitate smoother and faster project approvals.
A Green Energy Expert Panel comprising government and industry will be established to provide the independent Environmental Protection Authority with the information needed to progress approvals in a timely manner.
A Green Energy Major Projects Group will also be set up to help steer individual projects through government processes.
“Western Australia can become a world-leader in green energy, just as we have led the country and the world in iron-ore and natural gas,” Premier Mark McGowan said.
“We are already the powerhouse of the nation's battery and critical minerals sector, and our natural advantages mean we are perfectly placed in renewable hydrogen and renewable energy.
“A reduction in approval timeframes will ensure Western Australia remains a destination of choice for renewable industry investors.”
Environment and Climate Action Minister Reece Whitby said that green energy projects were critical in the transition to renewable energy, and this is another significant step towards achieving net zero emissions.
“This new assessment team will ensure proposals are considered in a timely manner while continuing to ensure the protection of our environment. This will help Western Australian industry be a major contributor to global efforts to decarbonise the economy without compromising our state's unique biodiversity.”