Judy Edwards

Judy Edwards

Former Minister for the Environment; Science

    Edwards brings on legislation to improve protection of Swan River

    22/11/2005 12:00 AM

    The Swan River - one of the State’s heritage icons - will be protected under new legislation Environment Minister Judy Edwards will introduce into Parliament today.

    Dr Edwards said the legislation provided a strong framework to integrate the efforts of State agencies, local governments and the community in protecting the river for current and future generations.

    Key elements of the Bill are:
    • establishing the Swan Canning Riverpark and setting targets to protect it;
    • developing a river protection strategy and management programs that will have defined targets;
    • providing opportunities for the community to be involved in establishing those targets and management arrangements;
    • streamlining and providing more transparent processes for assessing development proposals affecting the river; and
    • improving enforcement arrangements.
    Dr Edwards said the legislation also was a key recommendation of a major evaluation of the Swan-Canning Cleanup Program Action Plan that she also released today.

    The evaluation showed the actions were on the right track and pointed the way forward for the next phase of the program.

    “Many of the actions taken so far will require time to show results and the Government is committed to maintaining and, where necessary, increasing efforts through adopting new initiatives,” the Minister said.

    “For example, this year, we are beginning a $250,000 feasibility study into a large-scale oxygenation plant to breathe life into the upper reaches of the Swan River.

    “This project will build on a system that has been operating successfully in the Canning River for the past five years and has reduced the incidence of fish deaths and a significant decrease in nutrient levels.”

    Dr Edwards said the Swan Canning Riverpark would enable State agencies and local government to work together to manage the rivers as a whole system, rather than a series of separate areas.

    “The riverpark will include the waters and riverbed of sections of the Swan, Canning, Helena and Wungong rivers and fringing Crown reserves,” she said.

    “It will not include private land.

    “The river system is a major social, economic and environmental asset that is valued by all Western Australians.

    “This legislation heralds a new era for the rivers and ensures that they are properly managed for future generations.”

    The Minister said the legislation, when passed, would enable the introduction of river protection notices which would be an alternative to the existing regulatory approach, and would offer a targeted and flexible way to manage complex environmental issues.

    “Feedback from the public consultation on the draft Bill showed that the community supported greater co-operation and the development of long-term strategies for management of the rivers,” she said.

    “Consultation included participation by representatives from recreation, industry, catchment management, conservation, the rural and Noongar communities, State Government agencies and local government authorities.”

    The new legislation will replace the existing Swan River Trust Act 1988 and the Environmental Protection (Swan and Canning Rivers) Policy 1997.

    The development of new legislation, together with the $15.5million funding boost now being rolled out, is a major demonstration of the Government’s ongoing commitment to protecting and enhancing the Swan and Canning rivers.

    Minister's office: 9220 5050