WA to overhaul environmental approvals processes

Western Australia is welcoming the release of the EPA Environmental Impact Assessment Process Review to streamline approvals within the State.

Industry groups are welcoming the release of the EPA Environmental Impact Assessment Process Review to streamline approvals and promote sustainable development in Western Australia.

The WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CMEWA) claims environmental assessment and approvals processes in WA are inadequate, and has been campaigning for less red-tape for several years.

CMEWA Chief Executive, Reg Howard-Smith, said the review will provide a mechanism to improve processes whilst maintaining high standards of environmental assessment within the State.

“A more strategic and risk-based approach will facilitate more streamlined processes whilst directing resources to areas of greatest environmental risk,” he said.

Key recommendations include adopting new approaches to deliver greater consistency and focusing on environmental outcomes rather than project design details.

The new review is also expected to include timelines for key steps to minimise delays and promote recommendations for improvement.

EPA Chairman, Paul Vogel, said a rapidly expanding range of environmental risks and impacts is becoming “increasingly challenging” for the EPA to identify and understand.

“There are clear opportunities to deliver better environmental protection to improve the efficiency, transparency and consistency of the EIA process and policies,” he said.

“The process review will direct resources and analysis towards the environmental issues that matter most, and handle complexities like cumulative impacts and complex projects such as the Kimberly LNG Precinct,” he said.

According to the CMEWA, the EIA Process Review is “critical to sustainable development in Western Australia” and is now working with the EPA to ensure the best outcome from the review.

An EPA spokesperson told MINING DAILY the Process Review is being incrementally implemented across the State, with a number of outcome-based conditions now “up-and-running”.

According to the spokesman, a number of processes are yet to be finalised, but the updated review is expected to be in full-swing within the next six months.

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