The Independent Inquiry into the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Report has recommended more red tape for Victoria’s mining industry.
The report indicates the mining industry does not face the same level of environmental regulation compared to other industries with similar risk profiles.
Megan Davison, executive director of the Victorian Division of the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA), calls this an inaccuracy as the industry is one of the most tightly regulated and must adhere to all State and relevant Commonwealth environmental laws.
The MCA has urged the Government not to accept the report’s recommendations, with their submission to the Inquiry asserting the EPA lacks the technical ability to advise on issues regarding licensing in the minerals industry. It further stated that inconsistent or inaccurate claims by the EPA creates significant delays and impacts mine site operability.
The Council added the EPA did not have responsibility over compliance and enforcement of environmental conditions or rehabilitation requirements of a mine site. They also said some environmental and non-environmental conditions do not fit within the EPA’s responsibility such as vegetation clearance and biodiversity offsets.
The Council said the industry is experiencing more fracturing of the approvals process rather than employing a more efficient, whole government regulations scheme, as all the recommendations by the Inquiry related to the minerals industry are also regulated by other state regulators.
The report claims the proposed changes will effect the regulatory burden on Victoria’s mine operations, however, as the state continuously ranks poorly in terms of uncertainty concerning environmental regulations; administration, interpretation, and enforcement of existing regulations; and regulatory duplication and inconsistencies, the Council believes the recommendations will not improve Victoria’s standing.
“Unless the powers and functions of the Earth Resources Regulator (which the report recommends) and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning are removed, and a true one-stop-shop for regulation of the minerals industry is established via the EPA, these recommendations cannot be agreed to by the Government,” Davison said.