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. The Authority's 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'.
From 1 July 2017, the new Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) will support the EPA in conducting environmental impact assessments and developing policies to protect the environment. The DWER also monitors compliance with the conditions of Ministerial Statements.
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.
The EPA meets to consider proposals and deal with other business each month. EPA members also travel within Western Australia to examine proposals in the field and to meet with proponents on-site. Whenever possible, the EPA members take the opportunity to meet with key local stakeholders including local government, interest and conservation groups.