The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) was originally established in 1971.
The Authority comprises five members appointed by the Governor on the recommendation of the Minister for Environment.
The EPA is independent, in that it is not subject to direction by the Minister, and its advice to Government is public. EPA members are not public servants.
Its operations are governed by the Environmental Protection Act 1986 which stipulates that the objective of the EPA is to: 'use its best endeavours – a) to protect the environment; and b) to prevent, control and abate pollution and environmental harm.'
The Act defines the environment as 'living things, their physical, biological and social surroundings, and interactions between all of these'.
Functions of the EPA
The functions of the EPA are broad and include:
- conducting environmental impact assessments
- preparing statutory policies for environmental protection
- preparing and publishing guidelines for managing environmental impacts, and
- providing strategic advice to the Minister for Environment.
More detail about the EPA, it's vision, mission and commitment can be found in the Strategic Plan 2010-2013, below.
The EPA meets to consider proposals and deal with other business each fortnight. EPA members also travel within Western Australia to examine proposals in the field and to meet with proponents on-site. These site visits have been welcomed by proponents as an opportunity to meet with the EPA to discuss issues in a less formal setting.
Relevant staff from the OEPA and other Government experts accompany the EPA. Whenever possible, EPA members take the opportunity to meet with key local stakeholders including local government, interest and conservation groups.
Site visits are valuable in a number of ways:
- They give EPA members a clearer understanding of the environmental context of a proposal.
- They provide an opportunity for the EPA to meet proponents and key stakeholders, exchange views, address environmental issues associated with their proposal, and network in an informal atmosphere.
- They make it easier to communicate and interact with proponents and other stakeholders through subsequent telephone interaction and formal EPA meetings.
- They result in a more informed EPA leading to better environmental advice being provided to the Minister for Environment.
- They enhance the identity of the EPA as an Authority that provides independent advice.
The EPA established a Stakeholder Reference Group (SRG) to provide input into the Review of the EIA Process. At the end of the review the EPA agreed that the SRG should continue to meet as it was an effective means of consultation with key stakeholders and peak industry bodies. The SRG currently meets bimonthly to provide input to the EPA on matters of policy, process and performance, including the implementation of the Review.