Welcome to the website of the Environmental Defender's Office of Western Australia (Inc)
We are relying heavily on donations and membership this year to maintain our current level of service in providing staff and operational costs to help you protect the environment.
Therefore please support EDO WA by making a tax deductible donation.
Who We Are
The EDO is a non-profit, non-government Community Legal Centre specialising in public interest environmental law. Our services include:
- providing community groups and individuals with free legal advice and representation on environmental issues,
- promoting environmental law reform, and
- undertaking community legal education.
"Empowering the community to protect the environment through law".
Protection of WA's environment by providing individuals and community groups with environmental legal services including advice, education, representation and opportunity to participate in reform of laws affecting the environment.
Future of EDO funding
On 26 March 2015, Commonwealth Attorney General, George Brandis, announced that the LNP Government had decided to reverse savage funding cuts, amounting to $25.5 million over two years to 30 June 2017, to Legal Aid Commissions, Community Legal Centres and Indigenous legal service providers around Australia. Prominently excluded from the Government’s decision were Environmental Defenders Offices – including EDOWA – signalling that the Abbott Government is not about to reverse its policies on protecting the environment.
Under the prior Labour Government, funding for the 10 EDOs around Australia was to be increased $10 million over four years (resulting from the transfer of uncommitted funds from the Family Relationship Services Program). That additional funding was eliminated by the new LNP Government in December 2013, along with all historic core funding (approximately $1.2 million annually).
The current Government’s hostile attitude toward funding EDOs continues despite the Productivity Commission’s 5 September 2014 report on “Access to Justice”, which recommended (at p 713) restoration of at least some funding to EDOs on grounds: “The Commission considers that there are strong grounds for the legal assistance sector to receive funding to undertake strategic advocacy, law reform and public interest litigation including in relation to environmental matters . . . [i]rrespective of the Australian Government’s ultimate position on whether strategic advocacy and law reform should attract government funding . . . ."
One Stop Shop Update
On 13 February 2015, EDOWA submitted comments to the proposed approval bilateral agreement between the Commonwealth and Western Australia. In its comments, EDOWA challenged the underlying rationale for the Government’s so-called ‘one stop shop’ for environmental assessments and approvals, pursuant to which the Federal government shifts its responsibility to objectively assess and approve (or disapprove) of proposals that may significantly impact matters of national environmental significance to the States. Click here for the document....
One Stop Shop
The Commonwealth Government’s ‘One Stop Shop’ for environmental approvals
In October 2013, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for the Environment, announced that the Abbott Government had approved a framework for a ‘One Stop Shop’ for approval of environmental approvals. The purpose of this initiative was to create a single environmental assessment and approvals process under the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act) – delegated to States – for nationally protected matters for the avowed purpose of providing regulatory savings to business. Two types of bilateral agreements can be entered into by the Commonwealth and a state/territory: assessment bilateral agreements and approval bilateral agreements. If a proposed action is covered by an assessment bilateral agreement, then it is assessed by the federally-accredited state/territory but the proposed action still requires Commonwealth approval. If a proposed action is covered by an approval bilateral agreement, then it will be assessed and approved by the state/territory: No further approval is required from the Commonwealth under the EPBC Act.
Minister Hunt has now issued an invitation to comment on a draft approval bilateral agreement with Western Australia. The draft agreement provides for accreditation of Western Australian processes for the approval of actions that would otherwise have to be approved by the Commonwealth Government under the EPBC Act. All decisions relating to ‘accredited processes’ would be assessed by Western Australian agencies only, with no further referral to or approval by the Commonwealth Government being required, including for matters of national environmental significance.
The following website provides access to the draft approval bilateral agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of Western Australia and provides information on how to make submissions regarding the agreement: http://www.environment.gov.au/protection/environment-assessments/bilateral-agreements/wa
Submissions are due by 15th February 2015.
If you would like to make a submission and have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact the Environmental Defender’s Office on 9221 3030 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pinnacles a mining-free zone
On the 17 December 2014, the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) declared that the Pinnacles and the surrounding Red, Painted and Little Painted desert areas would be excluded from mining activities. This announcement came off the back of a first-time situation – access to the Pinnacles was excluded by DMP in response to a request by Westranch Holdings Pty Ltd (wholly owned by Norwest Energy) to amend its Mid West Exploration Permit. Westranch requested the amendment as the area is not prospective and the company has no intention to propose any future activity within the area. DMP’s Executive Director (Manager Petroleum Geology) Jeff Haworth, said that it would have been highly unlikely that exploration access to the Pinnacles would have been granted under the current regulatory framework in any case, but the new conditions to Westranch’s exploration permit provide greater clarity for the future. Mr Haworth further stated that DMP was pleased to receive the request, as it demonstrated a degree of corporate social responsibility on the part of Westranch.
At present, the approvals process for petroleum tenements involves a multi-agency assessment against several pieces of legislation before any activity can commence. Mr Haworth said DMP was reviewing its current processes for petroleum acreage release, citing the need for continuous improvement of regulatory standards, to ensure they are “in step with new scientific and technological advances, as well as changing social considerations.”
DMP’s media release can be accessed at: http://www.dmp.wa.gov.au/7105_21175.aspx
The EDO provides information factsheets over to members of the community in public interest environmental law matters.