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Joint Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
&
Western Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr Judy Edwards

20 August 2002

New Agreement Simplifies WA Environment Protection


The Commonwealth and Western Australian Governments have today announced an agreement to simplify environmental impact assessment in the State, providing major benefits for stakeholders.

The agreement, made under the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), means that proponents of developments only have to go through the State’s process to meet both Governments’ requirements. As well, other stakeholders including the local community, also only need deal with one process.

As a result of the agreement, the Commonwealth has accredited Western Australia’s assessment process for Public Environmental Reviews and Environmental Reviews and Management Programme under the Western Australian Environment Protection Act 1986.

The agreement is the result of negotiations between the Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, and the WA Minister for the Environment, Dr Judy Edwards. The Ministers said the agreement delivers certainty to all stakeholders involved in assessing the environmental impact of WA projects and ensures a timely and efficient assessment process.

“Most importantly, we are continuing to strengthen intergovernmental relations to better protect the environment and ensure no unnecessary duplication between the two levels of government," the Ministers said.

Dr Kemp said the agreement accredits the WA system for environmental assessment against national ‘best practice’ benchmarks.

“This signing under the EPBC Act demonstrates that States and Territories are recognising that bilateral agreements make good sense in streamlining processes while maintaining the necessary high standard of environmental protection,” Dr Kemp said.

Dr Edwards said the agreement is a sensible approach to Commonwealth/State relations.
“Under this agreement Western Australia will assess projects that trigger the Commonwealth EPBC Act using the State’s assessment processes,” Dr Edwards said.

“It ensures that major developments, in which the Commonwealth and the State have an interest, will have a streamlined process that has been accredited by the Commonwealth as meeting national standards.

“This streamlined process will assist mining, construction and energy industries in Western Australia. It will bring certainty to those interested in proposals as the assessments will be done under the State system.”

“As well, all interested parties in development proposals can deal with the Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority locally and the EPA will continue to use the best available advice to formulate its Report which will now go to both Ministers.

The agreement will come into effect following the passage of the Environmental Protection Amendment Bill 2002 currently before the West Australian parliament.

A bilateral agreement is already in place with Tasmania.

Dr Kemp said he expected bilateral agreements with other States and Territories to be settled shortly.

Media contacts:
Catherine Job Dr Kemp's office (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400
John Carey Dr Edwards office (08) 9220 5050 or 0408 051 772

Commonwealth of Australia