Taylor Burrell Barnett

TBB Reacts: Environmental Approvals process


Samantha Thompson
Managing Director

13 Dec 2023

On 12 December Premier Roger Cook announced a significant overhaul of the state’s environmental approvals process, in response to business delays and uncertainty which have hampered productivity.

TBB welcomes yesterday's announcement by the Premier to overhaul the Environmental Approvals process following the Vogel-McFerran review. This move is a significant step towards streamlining approval and implementation processes while maintaining and enhancing the environmental assets of the state.

The announcement highlighted that the government has accepted or noted all 39 recommendations put forward by the review. These recommendations aim to address various aspects of the Environmental Approvals process to ensure a more effective and timely decision-making framework. Several key recommendations are already being progressively implemented for rapid reform. We have summarised the significant recommendations below.

Changes to the Environment Protection Act 1986
    • Allowing other Government decision-making processes to run in parallel with an EPA approval
    • Allowing the Environment Minister to direct the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to assess a project of State significance within a specified timeframe
    • Establishing the EPA as a skills-based board with between 7-9 members
    • Introducing a requirement for the EPA to have a 'Statement of Intent' with the Minister for Environment to ensure the EPA recognises the Government’s priorities and policy objectives
    • Reduce referral of schemes and scheme amendments to the EPA under S48A using significant criteria for environmental complexity
    • Introduce timelines for DWER advice to EPA for its 'level of assessment' decision following analysis of public comment on referrals
    • Review of clearing regulations in relation to their timeliness and complexity
    • Amending the EP Act and the P&D Act to enshrine reciprocal EPA and WAPC board chair membership and the opportunity that may present to further reform, the referral of schemes and scheme amendments under S48A
    • Establish a combined agency, Chair and Director General working group to facilitate a shared understanding in both departments of respective regulatory roles and increase the trust and understanding of each

Investment of a further $18 million to reduce bottlenecks and allow for additional resources to be deployed for critical approvals, including using external consultants and technical experts to clear backlogs. This funding will also support a new Coordinator General role and team within the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation, to better coordinate efforts and facilitate approval across Government for projects of state significance.

TBB strongly supports the initiatives introduced by the Premier to overhaul the Environmental Approvals process. By adhering to timelines, simplifying regulations, and fostering collaboration between departments, the government aims to strike the balance between economic development and environmental conservation. TBB applauds these efforts and looks forward to the positive outcomes that these reforms will bring for Western Australia.

For information on any of these approval changes and how these could impact your projects, please reach out to your usual TBB contact or one of our dedicated policy & advocacy research team: 

Samantha Thompson, Director

Jarrod Ross, Principal

Trent Will, Principal


Samantha Thompson
Managing Director