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Red-tape reduction must not put environment at risk

The WA Conservation Council (CCWA) has called on the WA Government to ensure that environmental standards are maintained and strengthened as part of the package of additional resources provided to regulatory agencies by the McGowan Government.

The environment group also warned against fast-tracking approvals for damaging projects under emergency Covid response provisions. 
CCWA Director Piers Verstegen said the additional resources provided to regulatory agencies must deliver more robust protections for the environment, not just faster approvals. 
"Industry will always push for faster approvals, but it is the role of Government to ensure that development is in the best interests of the State and do not damage the environment, climate, or heritage. 
"It is essential that the community has confidence in the assessment and regulation of developments. That means regulatory agencies must continue to improve their processes and outcomes to ensure they reflect current science and community values. 
"The new resources provided by the McGowan Government must support strengthened compliance and enforcement functions, as well as updated environmental standards.
"Just this week, we heard that Western Australia’s most polluting project, the Chevron LNG development on Barrow Island, has breached its Ministerial Conditions resulting in millions of tonnes of unauthorised carbon pollution. This will be a crucial test for the regulator and for community confidence in our regulatory system. 
"Environment groups are also concerned that damaging developments may be fast-tracked using the emergency pandemic powers that have been passed in the WA Parliament. 
"Now is not the time to be fast-tracking dodgy developments under the guise of Covid recovery. Developers seeking special treatment for controversial projects will find that it only undermines community confidence and social license.
"If industry wants faster approvals, proponents should put forward responsible projects that do not damage the environment, climate or heritage values that our community wishes to protect.
"Where damaging projects are fast-tracked, or approvals are given for unacceptable projects, they will be contested by the community. 
"Responsible proponents do not experience delays, however new fossil fuel developments or other projects that destroy the environment and Aboriginal Heritage will be actively challenged, including in the courts. This will only lead to more delays and uncertainty in our approvals system," Mr Verstegen said.

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