Watch this Space – New Biodiversity Legislation Planned for WA in Early 2016

The WA Government introduced the Biodiversity Conservation Bill 2015 to the WA Parliament in November 2015. The Bill will repeal the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 and the Sandalwood Act 1929. Its aim is to provide for the conservation and protection of biodiversity and biodiversity components in WA, and for the ecologically sustainable use of biodiversity in WA. To this end the Bill will allow for the listing of threatened ecological communities and critical habitat, which is not possible under current legislation. Likewise, it will enable for the preparation of Conservation Management Plans and Recovery Plans.

In relation to project impact assessment the Bill appears to facilitate more streamlined biodiversity approvals that will align State approvals with Commonwealth approvals. It is understood that the Bill will not impose additional constraints on clearing approved under the Environmental Protection Act 1986 or under the Mining Act 1978. However it is likely that additional biodiversity assessment steps will be required as threatened ecological communities and recovery plans are gazetted in future.

While there was no public consultation undertaken prior to the Bill’s publication the Department of Parks and Wildlife is planning to conduct stakeholder briefings in January 2016. It is anticipated that the Bill will be debated in early 2016. Umwelt’s environmental science and ecology experts will keep abreast of changes as they occur and will be able to assist with interpreting the Bill and what it means to project approvals and conservation planning.

For further information please contact Ashley Bird, Principal Environmental Scientist (Perth), or Travis Peake, Practice Leader Ecology (Newcastle).