Reports show WA and VIC EPAs have work to do

Business people reviewing a report
 The Victoria and Western Australia governments have both released reports into their EPAs following independent evaluations of their work showing areas for development.

On Monday (16 May), the Victorian Government released its final report of an independent inquiry into EPA Victoria (EPA VIC), which examined the agency’s role, powers, governance and funding.

The report provides 48 recommendations aimed at establishing a modernised EPA with a clear focus on environmental and human health.

In the first comprehensive examination of EPA VIC since its establishment in 1971, the inquiry focused on what a growing Victoria will need from the EPA in the future, including responding to public health concerns with water and air quality, contaminated industrial sites, and having the flexibility to work with emerging industries. The inquiry received more than 200 submissions from the public.

There was a notable statement in the Victorian Government announcement of the report about funding the agency. “While the Labor Government supports the concept of polluter pays and having appropriate licence fees, we do not support the specific proposal to move away from funding the EPA through the landfill levy,” it said. “It is not proposed to make major changes to these arrangements and the government will consult industry on how these funds are used.

The next step is for the Labor Government to consider the report’s findings together with all 48 recommendations, with a view to issuing a full response later this year.

The report into Western Australia’s EPA (EPA WA), The Legal and Governance Review into Policies and Guidelines for Environmental Impact Assessments, was published on Tuesday (17 May).

WA Minister for Environment Albert Jacob initiated the review into EPA WA’s practices for policy and guideline development and their application to environmental impact assessments following a decision by the Supreme Court in December 2015 about the environmental assessment of the Stage 8 Roe Highway extension project.

In its report, the review team stated that EPA WA’s suite of policies and procedures was overly complicated and that the policy framework should be updated. It also set out how the EPA should achieve this.

Environment Minister Albert Jacob said he welcomed the review team’s findings and would act immediately on them. “This third party health check of the EPA was necessary to ensure their environmental assessment processes are sound, robust, transparent and easy to understand,” Minister Jacob said. “The EPA chairman has advised me that the board has already started work on the recommended actions. He expects the required changes can be implemented by the end of this year.”

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