Banksia Tree leaves

The team at Glen McLeod Legal was delighted to attend the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) Breakfast on Wednesday 5 September. The topic for this event was ‘Navigating the Environmental Approval Process’.

The breakfast provided an opportunity to hear from Dr Tom Hatton, Chairman of the Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority, and Darren Cooper, Chair of the Independent Review of the Strategic Assessment for the Perth and Peel Regions (SAPPR).

Darren Cooper’s presentation was as entertaining as it was insightful as he stepped the audience through the status of the SAPPR. He indicated that under the current timeline the SAPPR was expected to be finished in two years’ time. This, he explained, was in part due to the immense scale of the review, which dwarfs similar interstate reviews, namely, the Urban Growth Boundary Review in Victoria and the South West Growth Area Review in New South Wales.  He suggested that the SAPPR set an ambitious target, but that it should not be abandoned. Rather, he advocated for a more strategic approach.

Dr Tom Hatton’s presentation provided guidance on what the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) approach would be until the SAPPR review is finalised. He indicated that the EPA intends to make the decision about whether to assess a proposal at an earlier stage. He also indicated that the EPA website would provide proponents model examples of proposals that would be most likely to pass the assessment process.

Dr Hatton indicated that the actions proponents could take until the SAPPR review is finalised include:

  1. developing already cleared land;
  2. avoiding proposals which break up a large areas of existing native vegetation; and
  3. siting developments in a manner which maintains vegetation corridors.

In a concluding question and answer session, the audience queried the stringent protection that is afforded to the Carnaby’s Cockatoo and how this can adversely impact the environmental approval process for development.