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Chance to reform environmental protection laws must be taken

The independent review of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act presents risks as well as opportunities, the Conservation Council of WA said today.

The findings of the review rightly uphold the prohibition on expanding nuclear power generation but more needs to be done to regulate uranium.
Nuclear free campaigner, Kerrie-Ann Garlick, said the review identified that Australia’s natural environment and iconic sites are in an “overall state of decline and are under increasing threat”.

“The findings show that the current environmental trajectory is unsustainable – in those exact words. We cannot continue with business as usual, or sites in this country of astonishing value - ecological, cultural and economic – will be lost.
“Things must change – but it is vital that national environmental standards augment state regulations rather than replace them outright. The historical precedent shows Federal authorities have a pattern of eroding protections put in place by states.
“Federal conditions on uranium mining should be strengthened and should work in combination with State conditions – closing as many gaps as possible in the laws and regulations that ostensibly exist to protect people and the environment.
“The EPBC’s uranium trigger, ensuring that all uranium matters are treated as an issue of national as well as state importance, is vital in capturing additional issues and risks at uranium mine projects.
“The previous government of Western Australia took a fast and loose approach to uranium mining, with some approvals – such as the Yeelirrie proposal – exposing the deficiencies in the state system.
“While it is true that some Federal conditions are vague and not as strong as is required, any addition protection added to state rules – rather than replacing them – is welcome.
“The review is correct that uranium remains ‘a matter of national environmental significance’ but it equivocates on how to best address that matter. Uranium mining should be banned, nationwide. The mining and shipping process poses a threat to mine workers and local communities, and the end of the supply chain – nuclear power generation – has no place in the 21st century.”
Media contact:  Kerrie-Ann Garlick - 0401 909 332

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