The Environmental Protection Amendment Bill 2020 (the Bill) was introduced into the WA Parliament on 16 April 2020 by Mr R.R. Whitby (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Environment) on behalf of the Minister. The Bill along with the Environmental Protection Amendment Bill 2020 (No. 2) (the Levy Bill) amends the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (the EP Act) with the aim of improving and updating the legislation by streamlining and improving regulatory processes for the protection of the environment in WA. The Bill also makes minor, consequential amendments to other WA legislation.
The Bill is to be supported by amendments to the Environmental Protection Regulations 1987, the Environmental Protection (Clearing of Native Vegetation) Regulations 2004 and the making of new regulations necessary to implement the reforms proposed by the Bill.
In the second reading speech to the Bill, Mr Whitby stated the objectives of the Bill:
According to the second reading speech, the amendments are drawn from reviews and recommendations by expert advisory groups undertaken since the last major amendments by the Gallop Government (2001 to 2006). Consultation on the reforms proposed by the Bill was followed in 2019 by the release of an exposure draft Bill, a discussion paper and various meetings with stakeholder groups which according the second reading speech generated 101 submissions which are said to have "found broad support for the amendments".
The second reading speech points out that the amendments are driven by the need to "simplify and reduce unnecessary regulatory obligations on industry while maintaining strong environmental protection and standards". The WA government's view is that the amendments will result in "the reduction of costs to both industry and government and benefit business development and job creation".
The second reading speech indicates that the Bill is seen by the WA Government as representing "the most significant reform of Western Australia’s environmental legislation since the EP Act came into effect." According to the Government:
The main areas of reform in the Bill are:
Note: These amendments will provide clarity and align the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) ability to conduct strategic assessments with similar processes in other jurisdictions.
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Environmental Protection Amendment Bill 2020 (181 of 2020) [WA], second reading speech, and explanatory memorandum, available from TimeBase's LawOne Service.
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