- Environmental Protection Authority services get $3.3 million boost
- More resources to help tackle large increase in environmental assessments
Environment Minister Stephen Dawson has today announced an additional $3.3 million in funding to the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation to help tackle the steep increase in State-significant proposals requiring assessment by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).
The money will be used for additional resources for the Environmental Protection Authority Services Division, within the department, which supports the independent EPA Board and is responsible for carrying out environmental assessments of significant proposals such as mining, oil and gas, infrastructure, processing plants as well as irrigated agriculture across the State.
As a leading indicator, the Western Australian economy is improving - there has been a significant rise in proposals requiring EPA assessment. The number of EPA assessments has increased from an average of 138 assessments a year in the period from 2013-14 to 2016-17 to 224 assessments last financial year (2017-18).
The additional funding will ensure projects are not delayed through the assessment process, enabling them to move into construction, development and production phases as quickly as possible.
The funding will also be used to support the Appeals Convenor, obtain timely biodiversity advice to inform assessments, and address the backlog in approving environmental management plans for proponents.
To future-proof the EPA from busy periods, the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation is developing an environmental accreditation scheme to enable environmental consultants to conduct assessments to agreed standards.
The McGowan Government is also working on Environmental Protection Act amendments to allow for cost recovery in the future.
The McGowan Government has worked hard to clear the way for industry to flourish in the State, which is driving economic growth.
High priority proposals currently being assessed by the EPA include METRONET; Main Roads projects; Ocean Reef Marina; lithium mines and processing plants; oil and gas proposals; irrigated agriculture; and about 30 large-scale mining proposals.
Comments attributed to Environment Minister Stephen Dawson:
"To ensure the State continues to grow, it is important the department is resourced appropriately to support the EPA to carry out its important job of assessing the environmental soundness of proposals and protect Western Australia's unique environmental values.
"Today's funding announcement is a 25 per cent increase in the EPA's budget over the next two years (2018-19 and 2019-20) and will ensure it can do its job in a timely and effective way.
"In the past year, the number of significant proposals requiring assessment by the EPA has markedly increased and shows no signs of slowing down.
"As well as an increase in the volume of proposals, there has also been an increase in the complexity and variety of the projects coming to the EPA, which reflects the current diversity and innovation in the Western Australian economy."
Minister's office - 6552 5800