Industry leaders in construction are divided on Scott Morrison’s plan to cut “green tape” to accelerate the environmental approvals process according to a recent survey conducted by tender consultancy firm, Madrigal Communications.
When asked whether environmental regulations should be loosened to fast track construction projects, 42% of respondents believe they shouldn’t, 42% of respondents believe they should, and 16% are unsure.
The new survey indicates that industry leaders understand the need for regulation, with 75% agreeing that reduced environmental regulations will have some impact on the environment. However, 74% of respondents are currently preparing to win work through the governments $87.2 billion infrastructure pipeline. With 79% of respondents reportedly impacted to some degree by Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown measures, it is understandable that the promise of new work opportunities is alluring.
In mid-June of this year, Scott Morrison announced that he planned to streamline the government’s environmental approvals process to a 30-day target. Fifteen projects will be fast-tracked as part of the government’s infrastructure pipeline in a bid to boost economic recovery.
The majority of the construction leaders surveyed (90%) agree that loosening regulations will fast-track projects and 55% of respondents believe it may result in a jobs increase, yet 40% are wary that reduced regulations will result in an increase in environmental degradation.
Director of Madrigal Communications, Tim Entwisle believes construction companies are caught in a catch-22:
“We were surprised by the results of the survey. We expected construction managers to want faster approvals but we didn’t expect them to acknowledge that cutting the so-called “green tape” would result in impacts on the environment. If the intention of reducing the time for environmental approvals is making the bureaucracy more efficient then it makes sense to cut “green tape” but if the intention is to reduce scrutiny on building practices that impact on the environment the government may not be winning the support of those that most benefit.”
Under the current system of environmental assessments, the proponents must get both state and federal approvals for big developments. The change will have teams of state and federal officials assessing the projects jointly. This streamlining process also means that construction companies will be required to provide up-to-date information for officials.
Entwisle suggests businesses put their efforts into preparing material ahead of time particularly during this downtime:
“The challenge for the government is to speed up the regulatory process without lowering the effectiveness of the environmental protection goals. The challenge for business is to make sure that they understand the new requirements and that they prepare their environmental documentation to meet the timetable demands of the new process.”
The statistics were derived by surveying a pool of 20 industry leaders in construction in June 2020.
Source: Madrigal Communications