One of the EPA’s key roles is to provide Government with advice on the environmental acceptability of development proposals and statutory planning schemes. Development proposals include proposals for mining, industry as well as infrastructure such as ports, railways and pipelines. Planning schemes include both statutory planning schemes and their amendments.
Each year, many new development proposals and planning schemes are referred to the EPA. The EPA considers these referrals and decides whether or not they require formal environmental impact assessment (EIA), and if so at what level.
The EPA’s formal EIA process is undertaken in a structured and transparent manner with opportunities for the public to comment. The proponent is required to produce documentation describing the proposal, the potential environmental impacts and how these impacts would be managed.
The EPA then considers the proponent’s documentation, any public input, and advice from relevant experts and agencies to determine whether the proposal should be implemented and if so, whether conditions should be placed on a proponent to ensure appropriate environmental management. In making its decision, the EPA considers the object and principles of the Environmental Protection Act 1986, the environmental objectives for relevant environmental factors, and the environmental significance of the proposal or scheme.
At the completion of the assessment, the EPA prepares a report and recommendations for the Minister for Environment. This report is also made publicly available and is open for a public appeal period.
The Minister for Environment then considers the EPA’s report and any public appeals before determining, in consultation with other Ministers, whether the proposal or scheme should be allowed to proceed and, if so, under what conditions.