WA moves to streamline environmental approvals

Western Australia has joined its eastern counterparts to become the latest state government to announce it is reforming its mining approvals process.

On Wednesday Western Australian Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Marmion said the State Government will this week introduce a new mining bill said to reduce red tape, improve transparency and encourage investment in WA’s resources sector.

Marmion described the legislation as the first step in a “major revamp” of WA’s approvals system.

“The resources sector is a major contributor to our economy, and the flow-on benefits it provides to all West Australians is front and centre of the State Government’s reform agenda,” Marmion said.

“We are introducing reforms that make it clearer, easier, and cheaper to do business in WA, whilst maintaining strict environmental standards.”

But Marmion said streamlining the approvals process will not mean development at any cost.

“Let me be clear, this does not mean development at any cost. However, I do want to see a transparent approvals process that encourages further investment, and therefore more jobs, for West Australians.”

This Bill is the first tranche of legislative reform to implement the recommendations of the Reforming Environmental Regulation  program.

Additional reforms to strengthen the compliance framework and underpin a risk-based assessment system are planned for 2014.

“Risk-based-regulation enables government to set strict environmental standards and clear expectations of industry and allows companies to manage and mitigate any risks to achieving these standards,” Marmion said.

“This frees up our regulators from designing prescriptive conditions for each project they assess, and can instead direct their time to monitoring and enforcing compliance.

“The result will be more inspectors on the ground and a better understanding of what is actually happening in our environment.”

The proposed amendments include facilitating environmental data release, simplifying environmental authorisation process and the issue of notices under the Mining Rehabilitation Fund Act.

Earlier this month both the Queensland and New South Wales State Governments released plans aimed at reducing duplication, cutting red tape and improving regulatory outcomes for mining.

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