The Western Australian Environment Minister has released new guidelines regarding the use of environmental offsets under the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (WA) (the EP Act).
Environmental offsets can be used by developers to secure approvals in circumstances where they would otherwise be refused as a consequence of unacceptable environmental impacts. By counterbalancing those impacts, offsets can render the net environmental impact of a project acceptable.
The new guidelines are intended to assist proponents to formulate offset proposals. The key points are:
- The new guidelines will apply to all environmental offsets required as a condition of approvals under Part IV of the EP Act and clearing permits issued under Part V of the EP Act.
- The new guidelines will also apply to all projects assessed by the Western Australian government under the bilateral agreement with the Commonwealth Government under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth).
- The new guidelines clarify when environmental offsets will be applicable to a development, which is where the residual environmental impacts of a project are determined to be significant after all options for avoidance, minimisation and rehabilitation have been pursued.
- There are generally 3 types of environmental offsets: land acquisition, on-ground management and research. The new guidelines provide further guidance on when each type of offset will be considered appropriate.
The new guidelines confirm that all proponents wishing to implement offsets should outline the proposed mitigation and rehabilitation activities for the project, and demonstrate how the proposed offset will counterbalance any significant residual impacts which remain and deliver long-term environmental benefits.
For further information, please contact Sarah Mansfield or Emily Wilson of Castledine Gregory.