While many of the matters raised by Peter Kerr in his article, Margaret River mine ban rushed (AFR, 2nd May 2011
) are dealt with in the EPA’s report on the Vasse Coal proposal released yesterday and will also be dealt with in any subsequent appeal to the Minister for Environment, I cannot let a couple of statements made in his article pass without comment.Release Date:
3 May 2011Details:
Firstly, the sensational claim that official documents were ‘leaked’ is preposterous and baseless. Copies of government agency advice to the EPA were provided to Vasse Coal at their request. In keeping with EPA practice, such documents would be in the public domain after the EPA has reported on the proposal, which is indeed now the case (www.epa.wa.gov.au).
Secondly, it is for the independent EPA in Western Australia to provide integrated, holistic advice to government about the environmental acceptability of proposed development, not individual agencies. Normally, this advice would follow a full environmental impact assessment process, which may include consideration of the biophysical changes that a proposal may have on the ‘social surroundings’. This is covered in the definition of ‘environment’ under the Environmental Protection Act 1986 and is not the same as social impact assessment.
However in some instances, it is possible for the EPA to make a judgement that the proposal is fundamentally and fatally flawed, based on the proponent’s referral information, specialist advice sought by the EPA, the EPA‘s own knowledge and experience in dealing with similar environmental risks and impacts, and the application of the precautionary principle. In the EPA’s view, this is the case with the Vasse Coal proposal.
The EPA stands by its decision that the Vasse Coal proposal is environmentally unacceptable and will defend its position in any forum.
Dr Paul Vogel
CHAIRMAN, WA EPA
EPA Media contact: Charlie Maling, 6467 5415, 0400 866 450Status: