THE Western Australia Government has welcomed moves by the Commonwealth Government to enter into a bilateral agreement to streamline environmental approvals.
The Commonwealth Government today confirmed its intention to enter into a landmark agreement that will provide a single avenue for industry to achieve Commonwealth and State environmental assessments and approvals.
It is expected the agreement will result in an average six-month reduction in decision-making timeframes.
WA has about $100 billion worth of development proposals in the pipeline that will benefit from a bilateral approval agreement.
WA Premier Mar McGowan said his government has long recognised the importance of ensuring timely and robust environmental assessments to deliver greater certainty and agility to Western Australian industry.
He said the WA Government has been strongly advocating for the benefits of removing duplication between State and Federal requirements while maintaining environmental standards.
This approach is supported by the interim review of the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, released last month by Professor Graeme Samuel.
WA’s environmental impact assessment practices of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) are highly acclaimed. In 2019 the EPA was honoured with an International Association for Impact Assessment award. More recently, the Fraser Institute’s Annual Survey of Mining Companies identified WA as the number one place in the world for mining and mineral exploration.
Mr McGowan said this is why WA is ideally placed to work with the Commonwealth and lead the nation to deliver this once-in-a-generation reform. It is also important to note that the Commonwealth retains the ability to ‘call in’ projects when it deems it necessary.
He said the WA Government remains focused on simplifying and reducing unnecessary regulatory obligations on industry while maintaining strong environmental protection standards to further aid the State’s economic recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bilateral approval agreement will complement the State Government’s work with the Commonwealth on Environment Online and with the Biodiversity Information Office.
“I welcome the Commonwealth’s indication that it intends to enter into this agreement with WA, to help streamline approvals and fast-track jobs,” Mr McGowan said.
“Western Australia has long understood that delivering strong and sustainable economic growth means reducing unnecessary regulatory burden on industry while upholding robust environmental protection standards.
“This will not in any way compromise environmental standards. It will simply reduce duplication in the approvals process.
“Our Government’s main priority is ensuring Western Australia is in a strong positon to recover from the pandemic, with employment opportunities created for Western Australians.
“This agreement will pave the way for important job-creating projects, while maintaining the highest environmental standards.”