Government | Regulation

NSW Energy Minister announces red tape cuts

The NSW Government will cut red tape to streamline mining and exploration approvals and amend rules for energy network investment, NSW Minister for Resources and Energy, the Hon. Chris Hartcher has told a CEDA audience in Sydney.

Mr Hartcher said the NSW Government and Federal Government are committed to ensuring a joint approval process is developed for major mining projects within Australia to give certainty to investors on timeframes and compliance outcomes.

"Industry has rightly long called for certainty in process and regulatory timeframes, we have heard this message and will continue our focus on cutting both red and green tape," he said.

Mr Hartcher announced the NSW Government intends to make changes to the processing system, including reducing:

  • Average processing timeframes for mineral exploration licences and leases from 80 to 45 business days;
  • Average timeframes for coal exploration licences and leases from 150 to 95 business days; and
  • The timeframe for renewal of coal exploration licences and leases from 100 to 55 business days.

"New service standards for the processing of applications under the Mining Act will provide greater certainty and allow industry to better manage operations around standard timeframes," he said.

In addition, Mr Hartcher announced the energy network investment rules will be amended while maintaining the current reliability levels and key targets on outages.

"We will be giving responsibility and authority to plan and deliver efficiencies to the network businesses themselves," he said.

"Existing licence conditions will be modified to remove the design planning criteria but retain the existing targets.

"Investment will not be driven by arbitrary design criteria that tells businesses how many poles to build and how many substations to build.

"That means from now investment will be delivered only when necessary and only when appropriate."

Mr Hartcher also said that as of 1 July this year the definition of a small retail customer was reduced from 160 megawatt hours of electricity per year to 100 - meaning more businesses have entered the competitive market.

"The intent of the change to the regulation was to boost competition in the energy market and to test the market to ensure there is sufficient competition," he said.

Mr Hartcher said the final report by the Australian Energy Market Commission on competition in the NSW retail electricity and natural gas markets confirmed that energy customers are benefiting from competition, by comparing energy deals and switching retailers.

"The final report has found that competition is effective in the NSW energy market, both urban and rural, and recommends that the government take action to deregulate these markets," he said.