Today’s EPA announcement may turn out to be smokescreen: Greens

8th June 2010 - The Greens have greeted new moves to streamline the environmental assessment process with some skepticism, saying the Government’s true agenda with ‘approvals’ may show changes like today’s to just be a smokescreen.

 “These changes appear innocuous enough, as have some others made or proposed thus far in the early stages of this Liberal-National Government’s fast-tracking agenda,” said the Greens member for the Mining and Pastoral Region, Robin Chapple MLC.

 “But all stakeholders with an interest in the environmental assessment process are awaiting the State Government’s final agenda with the so-called approvals process.”

 “The concern is that pressure from the Industry Working Group will end up with a process that centralises final decisions with a single, new decision-making authority (‘DMA’) that has scant regard for environmental considerations.”

 Mr Chapple said that if radical reform was the State Government’s true agenda, then other recent changes like today’s announcement would be seen in a totally different light.

 “We may end up with a process overseen by a development-oriented department or Minister, rather than the Environment Minister.”

 “if that was the context, then today’s new process would really just be about asking proponents whether planned conditions were going to cost them too much money to comply with or not.”

 “In other words, it would be lowest cost environmental regulation rather than rules designed to protect the environmental values in question; a major blow against the integrity of the current process,” Mr Chapple added.

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