The EPA released its Strategic Plan 2016-2019 on July 1, 2016. The plan sets out four strategies that outline our focus for the next three years.
The first three strategies – provide sound advice, provide robust advice, and provide transparent advice – reflect a focus on building public confidence in environmental impact assessments. We will do this by broadening the scientific advice accessed by the EPA, ensuring our policy and procedures sustain both merit and legal review, and regularly evaluate the environmental outcomes of our advice.
These strategies also underscore the EPA’s view that engaging with stakeholders and the broader community is fundamental. One example of how we have committed to increasing transparency is to better explain the Level of Assessment determinations on referrals for proposals or scheme amendments. Community feedback indicated there was a perception a “Not Assess” decision meant there had been no serious consideration of a proposal or scheme amendment. The term “Not Assess” did not accurately convey the level of examination we undertook in considering a referral, which often included a thorough review of the referral, preliminary investigations and inquiries with government departments, local governments and proponents as well as consideration of public comments received throughout a public comment period. Since May 2016, "Not Assess" was replaced with “Referral examined, preliminary investigations and inquiries conducted. Proposal / Scheme Amendment not to be assessed under Part IV of EP Act. (Appealable/No Appeals)”.
The fourth strategy – foster strategic and regional consideration of potential short and long-term environmental impacts – reflects the EPA’s desire to develop and publish contemporary scientific assessments and advice on key environments under pressure or of emerging concern in the State. The EPA has broader responsibilities to promote environmental awareness and protect the environment. One way it achieves this is through the provision of public advice under section 16(e) of the EP Act. Providing general advice to the WA public and Government will remain a focus this coming year.