What you need to know?
Yesterday evening, the South Australian Government released the eagerly anticipated draft Hydrogen and Renewable Energy Bill (“the Draft Bill”) regarding the proposed introduction of a new Hydrogen and Renewable Energy Act (“the Act”).
The Draft Bill, if passed, will regulate large-scale hydrogen projects, as well as stand-alone renewable energy projects, through a “one window to government” licensing framework.
The Draft Bill largely mirrors the issues raised by the Government in the Hydrogen and Renewable Energy Act Issues Paper it released in November 2022 (“the Issues Paper”). Finlaysons reported on the Issues Paper here.
There are three key differences in the Draft Bill, compared to the Issues Paper. Those differences, if passed, will have far-reaching impacts on hydrogen and renewable energy project development in South Australia:
- Introduce a ‘social enterprise licence’, being a licence of “last resort” over freehold and non-freehold land for hydrogen and renewable energy enterprises of major significance to the economy of South Australia. This category of licence will enable qualifying enterprises to proceed where land access is not able to be otherwise agreed. It will co-exist with existing rights and interests in the subject land, and those existing rights and interests may continue to be enjoyed wherever that is consistent with the authorised operations carried out pursuant to the licence;
- Introduce a standalone process for environmental impact assessment of a proposed hydrogen or renewable energy project, to apply in place of the assessment and authorisation processes in the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 (SA); and
- Remove the previous proposal to introduce an ‘associated activity licence’ for construction of related infrastructure such as batteries.
Importantly, it is proposed that the Act will apply to renewable energy project proposals for which Crown sponsorship is being currently sought or has been granted but where no development application has been lodged prior to commencement of the Act.
The Draft Bill is open for public consultation and the receipt of written submissions until Monday 26 June 2023.
What does this mean for you?
It is critical for energy, mining and resources sector participants currently operating, or intending to operate, in South Australia to familiarise themselves with the proposed new regulatory and licencing framework.
If you would like to discuss how the Draft Bill may affect your renewable energy or hydrogen project in South Australia, or if you would like assistance preparing a submission regarding the Draft Bill, please contact our team:
If you have any questions concerning any of the proposed Bills and how the emission reduction target will affect your business or your projects, please do not hesitate to contact our Energy team.