EPAs mandate is to provide for environmental protection in WA – including biodiversity. In issues like Bush Forever the DoE (mostly) operates to support the role of the EPA The EPA has statutory (and other) environmental protection tools The EPA works within an international, national and state policy framework, which is increasingly science based The EPA establishes its own policies / guidelines to interpret these wider policies and guide decision-making in the WA and regional context
What is Bush Forever ? Regional scale environmental planning and biodiversity conservation policy for Perth Part of a National and State biodiversity policy framework Essential part of ecological sustainability in the Perth Region
Key Bush Forever Objectives include: To meet the needs and aspirations of the community of WA for the appropriate protection and management of bushland of regional significance in the Swan Coastal Plain portion of the Perth Metropolitan Region. To bring greater certainty to the process of land use planning and environmental approvals by the early identification and protection of areas of regionally significant bushland. It is worth considering these objectives in the context of the current demand for urban land. These objectives are relevant to the EPA/DoE role in Bush Forever implementation.
EPA / DoE tools for implementation of Bush Forever objectives Training and capacity building Environmental impact assessment Native Vegetation clearing permits Environmental policy
Training and capacity building Good information and understanding of biodiversity values and their local and regional context is central to good decision-making and conservation management. The DoE works through training, information support and capacity building with state agencies, local government and community to increase understand of biodiversity values and patterns within the Bush Forever region. A partnership with local government (WA Local Government Association) on their Perth Biodiversity Project is helping build capability within local government. Including the developing capacity to prepare Local Biodiversity Strategies.
Environmental Impact Assessment 1.Development proposals referred to EPA under Section 38 of the Environmental Protection Act 2.Planning schemes /amendments under Section 48A Issues EPA assessment of development proposals is reactive and resource hungry, not first option - but important for major issues. Planning schemes are generally assessed by the EPA, to promote good strategic environmental input & outcomes early in the planning/development approvals process. EPA only has the capacity to undertake about 45 assessments a year (State wide).
Alkemos-Eglington MRS Amendment area. EPA assessment of the MRS amendment facilitated an improved outcome for regionally significant bushland conservation
Native Vegetation Clearing Permits The clearing of native vegetation is an offence under EP Act Part V Division 2 (clearing permits), unless a permit is held or a valid exemption applies (see www.slp.wa.gov.au) Broadly exemptions do not apply to environmentally sensitive areas, as declared by the Minister for the Environment. Bush Forever sites are environmentally sensitive areas, except to the extent to which the site may be cleared under a decision of the WA Planning Commission.
EPA policy EPA policies range from statutory Environmental Protection Polices to EPA Position/Guidance Statements Position and Guidance Statements provide improved certainty through early advice to developers/consultants and decision-makers on the EPAs thinking, key information sources and requirements and how to avoid impacting on significant environments etc. Help planners & developers to identify and avoid environmental constraints, improves environmental outcomes and avoids delays in approvals processes.
Position and Guidance Statements relevant to Bush Forever include: Position Statement 4 Environmental Protection of Wetlands (2004); Position Statement 9 Environmental Offsets (2006) Guidance Statement 33 (draft) Environmental Guidance for Planning and Development (2005);and Guidance Statement 10 Level of assessment for proposals affecting natural areas within the System 6 region and Swan Coastal Plain portion of the System 1 Region (2003) (see www.epa.wa.gov.au)
Guidance Statement 10 is particularly relevant to Bush Forever The overall objective of Guidance Statement 10 is to seek to avoid impacts on regionally significant bushland/natural areas.
Flow Diagram from an updated version of EPA Guidance Statement No 10 (Guidance Statement updated to include reference to the clearing permit system and due to be released in late June)
Key Issues for consideration Implementation requirements extend beyond the protection of Bush Forever Sites to include implementation of the General Policy measures, such as: The general presumption against the clearing of bushland containing threatened ecological communities or representation of vegetation complexes of which less than 10% currently remains on the Swan Coastal Plain portion of the Perth Metropolitan region; Effective resolution of Bush Forever Sites with Basis Raw Material resource issues may require a strategic approach. This arguably should include consideration of mechanisms to facilitate greater sequential use of Basic Raw Material resources ahead of urban or industrial development.