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Fast tracking approvals means fast tracking the path to net zero

The Chamber of Minerals and Energy of WA (CME) has responded to today’s announcement by the WA Government about its plans to improve Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) approval processes for the resources sector.

CME Chief Executive, Rebecca Tomkinson, said the Chamber had repeatedly called for more efficient regulatory measures and urgent action to remove the red tape that had been stifling the progress of resources approvals, production and new project investment.

“CME has been a vocal contributor to the WA Government’s Streamline WA initiative, the Vogel Review into the approvals system, and the red tape reduction review,” Ms Tomkinson said. 

“We also recently hosted an industry-led roundtable to advance the reform agenda with key decision makers, so today’s announcement is a welcome response to our advocacy efforts.

“The Environment Minister’s expanded directions mean the EPA’s backlog for projects of state significance can be triaged and urgent projects can be prioritised which, along with a more efficient approvals process overall, is a positive step.

“The creation of the Coordinator General position with a direct reporting line to Cabinet answers CME’s calls for a greater level of transparency and accountability.  

“We look forward to seeing how this role can ensure progress is made towards materially reducing approvals timeframes, including through the identification and removal of bottlenecks across agencies in the end-to-end approvals process.  

“We expect this role, alongside the additional $18 million investment to streamline approvals, will go a long way to improving the effectiveness of the Streamline WA initiative.” 

Ms Tomkinson said CME looked forward to working with the additional expertise on the EPA board and seeing the Vogel-McFerran review’s recommendations and improvements in action as soon as practicable.

“The energy transition is being driven by precisely the sorts of critical minerals that WA is able to extract, process and supply to the world, but the window of opportunity will not stay open indefinitely and regulatory processes needed to align with energy transition urgency,” she said.

“We have only six years left to 2030. The world won’t wait for us to complete our approvals processes as it races towards a lower carbon economy.

“In terms of supply chain security, production value and ESG reliability, there is no net zero without Western Australia, so it makes sense for governments to clear the path of red tape and let industry get on with providing the materials needed for the global energy transition.”