Large scale resource and infrastructure projects are often subjected to an assessment to determine their potential impact on the environment. Environmental protection in Western Australia is governed by both state and Commonwealth legislation.
Projects that are likely to have a significant effect on the environment may be required to undergo environmental impact assessment under the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (WA) (the EP Act). In some cases, a formal assessment may not be needed where environmental impacts are not deemed to be significant.
The EP Act requires the establishing of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), a five-member, independent authority which provides strategic advice to the Environment Minister on the environmental acceptability of development proposals and statutory planning schemes. Development proposals include proposals for mining, industry and infrastructure, such as ports, railways and pipelines.
Proponents should identify potential environmental impacts early in the planning process, and where the development proposal is likely to have a significant effect on the environment, refer the proposal to the EPA for a decision on whether or not it requires assessment under the EP Act. During the project planning proponents will need to devote time and resources to environmental surveys and investigations for inclusion in the environment review document.
The EPA has put together a number of helpful publications that can guide proponents in the preparation of Environmental Scoping Documents and environmental review documents. Proponents also need to address matters of concern to government agencies and the public.
The Environmental Impact Assessment Administrative Process
page on the EPA website sets out some of the things the EPA will consider when determining whether a proposal will need to be assessed.