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Massive overhaul of environmental protection laws threatens WA's nature

Conservation organisations across WA are warning that the Cook Government’s moves to overhaul the State’s environmental assessment system represents a major threat to the State’s nature and the independence of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

Premier Roger Cook announced the changes at a business breakfast in Perth today before releasing a statement and Government’s response to 39 recommendations from a rapid review that did not involve consultation with conservation groups.

These concerning changes would undermine the integrity of the environmental assessment process and the independence of the EPA, including through fast-tracking industrial projects, enabling the Minister to impose the Government’s priorities and policies on the EPA, and removing the crucial oversight of the quality of EPA assessments through the appeals process. It seems the Office of the Appeals Convenor will be closed. We call on the Government to confirm its intent to make this radical change.

The rapid review that’s been undertaken has missed the crucial context which is that largely unrestricted mining, industrialisation, and land clearing, along with increasing greenhouse pollution, is already threatening to drive many of WA's unique plants and animals further into the extinction abyss. These changes risk making the environmental crisis in WA even worse.

Conservation groups and the broad community want to see governments bolster the independence of the EPA but these reforms will further reduce the community’s confidence that the EPA can perform its core role which is to prevent environmental harm and conserve and protect the WA environment.

On behalf of Western Australian conservation groups, President of the Conservation Council of WA, Dr Richard Yin, said “These changes amount to the most radical overhaul of environmental assessment laws in decades. We have not been consulted about these major changes which present a serious threat to our already depleted environment. We call on the Premier to commit to a genuine consultation process before going any further. There are some changes on the fringes that we agree would make sense, including to ramp up funding for the EPA and to find ways to retain and attract its hardworking staff. There are much smarter ways to help facilitate better assessment processes for genuine renewables projects than a reform agenda that appears to be a Trojan Horse to enable the big end of town to wield even more influence. It’s business as usual on steroids.


MEDIA INFORMATION: The Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) is the state’s foremost nonprofit, non-government conservation organisation representing nearly 100 environmental organisations across Western Australia. For more information, visit:

CONTACT: For any enquiries relating to this release, please call 0412 272 570


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