The Environment Policy Branch in the Environment Division has the key function of facilitating responsible development by participating with Commonwealth and State Government agencies in the formulation of environmental legislation, policies, implementation guidelines and strategies associated with the resources industry and associated infrastructure.
Role of the Environment Policy Branch
What does this mean? It means we provide advice, contribute to the development of, participate in and review legislation, regulation, policies, guidelines and strategies produced by DMP and any matters which come out of other agencies which may have an impact on mining, petroleum and geothermal activities or geological storage of greenhouse gas. We do this prior to the policy, legislation or strategy being finalised or gazetted so that they will function effectively.
Key work areas of the Environment Policy Branch
The Commonwealth Government is driving national climate change abatement and adaptation measures and legislation which affects the way the WA Government addresses climate change. One of the key initiatives is the geological storage of greenhouse gas, also known as carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) or geosequestration. There are already a number of proposals for this in WA – the Gorgon Joint Venture, Coolimba Energy, the South West Hub and Woodside Browse. The Branch is involved in assisting the establishment of WA’s development of CCS legislation, and provision of DMP’s advice to the Commonwealth on its development of regulations under the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006. The Branch also chairs DMP’s CCS Communications Group and assists with the facilitation of commercial demonstration projects. The Branch also represents DMP on the State Government’s climate change committees.
Biodiversity Planning and Management
DMP supports the protection of biodiversity and this is reflected in the approvals process under the Mining Act 1978 and Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act 1967. While the Branch is not involved directly with the implementation of the Regulations, it does assist in enhancing the Regulations to take account of biodiversity values. The Branch is involved in coordinating DMP responses to World, National and State heritage initiatives and the Conservation Commission’s conservation reserve initiatives. There are also Commonwealth and State initiatives for biodiversity protection, other than the reserve system, such as the Biodiversity Strategy. The Branch helps ensure that biodiversity objectives can be met, while permitting access to mineral and petroleum prospectivity of economic significance to the State.
Marine Planning and Management
Our Branch is involved directly with the Commonwealth Government in its development of the Southwest and Northwest Marine Bioregional Plans. It is important that the State’s interests in the offshore petroleum resources activities, and associated onshore facilities, are accommodated in these plans. Our Branch represents DMP’s interests in these initiatives. Our Branch is also involved in the developments of marine conservation reserves in state waters. These include the South Coast Regional Marine Strategic Plan, the Pilbara Eighty Mile Beach proposal and reserves. Again our Branch ensures DMP’s interests are accommodated.
Coastal Planning and Management
Change in weather patterns from proposed climate change forecasts may result in higher sea levels and bigger, stronger and more frequent storm events. This is taking its toll on our coastal environments, both affecting the biodiversity and ecosystems located on the coast, as well as industry facilities and supporting infrastructure. It is important that DMP, through our Branch, is aware of possible implications of climate change on the resources sector located on coastal areas.
Strategic Regional Planning
Our Branch is involved in various Government agencies’ regional planning initiatives. The focus of our attention is influencing the relevant agencies to accommodate appropriately in these plans mineral, petroleum, geothermal and geological storage of greenhouse gas interests such as exploration and production activities and supporting infrastructure.
Our Branch plays an important role in assisting DMP and other government agencies develop environmental legislation, regulations and policies that ensure both the environment and industry can coexist in a sustainable way. Our Branch often provides feedback on how these policies may impact the current and future potential of mining, petroleum, geothermal resources and geological storage of greenhouse gases. Our Branch is also involved in reviewing the regulatory process of the Environment Division.
Golden Gecko Environmental Awards
Each year the Branch coordinates these awards which are given to companies that have undertaken projects showing outstanding environmental performance beyond obligatory compliance.
If you have any comments on our work or would like to contribute to our submissions, please contact the Branch.
Strategy Paper: Transparency in Environmental Regulatory Decision Making
A key regulatory function of the department is to ensure that environmental impacts associated with resource projects are minimised, that resource industry environmental practices meet the expectations of the State Government and the community.
Changing community attitudes, government policies and legislation, place pressure on the industry and DMP to improve its performance. As environmental regulator, DMP continues to refine its processes to deliver predictable, reliable and timely regulatory decisions.
In early 2010, DMP identified the need for a strategic approach to improve performance reporting and public availability of information on regulatory decisions; with a focus on environmental approvals. On 24 August 2010 DMP released a draft of this paper for a three month comment period and received comments from industry and community representatives.
DMP Strategy Paper - Environmental Transparency Measures(PDF 829 kb)
The final policy paper titled Strategy Paper: Transparency in Environmental Regulatory Decision Making, guides how DMP will continuously improve transparency arrangements within environmental regulation functions. The intent of this strategy is to define the factors DMP will take into account before proposing future changes.
DMP – Response to Strategy Paper Submissions(PDF 1498 kb)
A summary of the public comments received through the departmental consultation process have been outlined in the document titled DMP – Response to Strategy Paper Submissions.