Environment Law and Covid-19

There have been no changes to environmental assessment, approval or regulatory processes at State or Commonwealth levels in response to Covid-19 restrictions.

Numerous projects and developments are likely to have been impacted by social distancing restrictions, and as a result some businesses may be finding it difficult to comply with statutory obligations. Despite these difficulties, we urge businesses engaged in environmental assessment, approval and regulatory processes to continue to comply with statutory obligations, and have compiled information below which may be useful.

Referrals and assessments

  • Assessments of proposals under the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (WA) (EP Act) and the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act) are still progressing.
  • The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has emphasised that proposals likely to have a significant impact on the environment should continue to be referred for assessment.
  • The EPA is conducting proponent meetings via telephone or video conference.

Compliance

  • Regulators are recommending that companies implement business continuity plans to manage difficulties in upkeeping compliance obligations. In doing so, it would be advisable to check permits, licences and approvals for any conditions that may prove difficult for your business to comply with in the coming weeks, and factor potential solutions into your plan.
  • The EPA and the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER)  are advising businesses to contact DWER if you anticipate a significant risk relating to complying with statutory requirements: compliance@dwer.wa.gov.au / 08 6364 6612.

The Federal Department of Environment and Energy has not published a statement in relation to any changes to its operations during Covid-19, and we can assume that business is largely continuing as usual.

The EPA, and State regulators including DWER and the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, are providing Covid-19 related updates and information on their websites. We highly recommend keeping informed of these in the coming weeks and months.

If you have any concerns or are experiencing difficulties relating to environmental assessment, approvals or regulatory processes and need assistance, we would like to hear from you.  Please feel free to contact any member of our experienced Planning and Environment team.