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Best Practice Regulatory Principles

With the amalgamation of the Department of Water, Department of Environment Regulation and the Office of the Environmental Protection Authority, six guiding regulatory principles have been established to guide the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation from 1 July 2017. The guiding principles are interim and the department will undertake further work including consultation in order to finalise them.

Western Australia is undergoing significant environmental regulatory reform.

The Guidance statement: Regulatory Principles is designed to clarify how DER will carry out its regulatory functions under the Environmental Protection Act 1986. The guidance statement is supported by a series of detailed documents and process improvements for more efficient, effective, transparent, consistent and accountable environmental regulation in WA.

Draft Guidance Statement: Separation Distances

The Department of Environment Regulation (DER) published the draft Guidance Statement: Separation Distances (GS) for a public consultation period which closed in November 2015. Since then, DER has been reviewing consultation submissions, and working to finalise the draft GS. At the same time, DER has been applying its risk-based regulatory framework to pilot assessments. DER has also been briefing stakeholders in relation to its Regulatory Framework.

DER’s briefings and review of consultation submissions highlighted a high degree of confusion regarding the concept of separation distances. Stakeholders were unclear as to:

  • how the draft GS would interact, if at all, with the Environmental Protection Authority’s guidance on separation distances;
  • how the draft GS would interact with, if at all, planning provisions and its use in planning approvals; and
  • whether the draft GS requires minimum distances or buffers to be maintained.

Following discussions of these issues with stakeholders, the draft GS is now withdrawn from DER’s suite of Regulatory Framework documents to avoid stakeholder confusion or misunderstanding as to its purpose or use.  The consideration of distances from sensitive receptors will still be used by DER to inform assessments and decision making.  Distances will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

The Framework

Guidelines and Supporting Documentation

    • Licence template, Conditions Library, Application form
      - Licences and works approvals set conditions for prescribed premises to ensure that potential impacts and risks to the environment are minimised. New documentation will ensure transparent and consistent decisions and condition setting for all works approvals and licences under Part V, Division 3 of the EP Act.

Risk Assessment Examples

DER's risk assessment process has been developed to ensure a systematic approach in assessing risk and applying regulatory controls which are proportionate to the risk.

The below licences and works approvals are examples of DER's application of risk-based assessment: