- Clearing regulation to be improved by fees structure
- Extra resources will lead to improved transparency through publication of data
- Funding stream to improve approval processes and assessment timeliness
- Improved cost recovery model to grow economy and create jobs
Western Australia's environmental assets will be better protected with extra resources allocated to improve native vegetation regulation.
The resources will be funded by new clearing fees - to be introduced on July 1, 2019 - to help the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) keep pace with the State's rapid economic growth and associated demand for environmental approvals, including clearing applications.
The clearing fees have not changed since the regulations were established in 2004 and currently represent an under recovery rate of approximately 99 per cent for DWER. The new fees will improve the rate of cost recovery and be returned to DWER in order to improve processes and the turnaround time of clearing applications.
The new fees are estimated to increase clearing revenue to $600,000 for 2019-20 (or six per cent recovery) and will fund additional staff and be invested in implementing a new Environment Online business system.
The adjusted fees follow extensive consultation throughout the State with a number of DWER-run workshops across Perth and regional centres late last year.
The department received 100 written submissions with comments relating to fee structures, the level of cost recovery, potential impacts to businesses, individuals and industry and the need for better transparency through publication of clearing data.
Comments attributed to Environment Minister Stephen Dawson:
"Consistent and timely environmental decision making benefits industry, the community, the economy and the environment.
"The Government has listened to all public feedback when considering fee increases for clearing native vegetation.
"We have reduced the proposed fees associated with clearing under five hectares.
"Money raised from the fee increase will be reinvested in the department to employ additional staff - in both the assessment and compliance areas - and to improve business systems.
"In line with stakeholder feedback I have endorsed the development of a general government policy on native vegetation, and further investigation into improved vegetation mapping and monitoring and strategic regional conservation planning.
"These strategies will strike the right balance between clearing and protecting the environment and delivering a strong economic outlook that will benefit all community members - for now and future generations."
Minister's office - 6552 5800