THE West Australian Government last week announced one of the biggest red tape cuts to the environmental planning approval process ever undertaken in Western Australia, with the release of the draft 'Perth and Peel Green Growth Plan for 3.5 million' for public comment.
Premier Colin Barnett said the plan would secure Federal environmental approvals upfront to provide certainty to development and conservation in Perth and Peel for the next 30 years.
"What we are committing to is one of the largest expansions to a conservation reserve system surrounding a capital city ever undertaken anywhere in the world," Mr Barnett said.
"This clearly protects areas of environmental significance and streamlines development approvals across Perth and Peel.
"It is a once in a generation opportunity to meet the challenge of ensuring the sustainable growth of metropolitan area while protecting more areas of land with environmental significance.
According to the government, the draft Perth and Peel Green Growth Plan for 3.5 million includes:
- Upfront Federal environmental approvals and streamlined State environmental approvals for future urban, industrial, rural residential, infrastructure development, basic raw materials extraction and pine harvesting;
- The protection of an additional 170,000 hectares of new conservation reserves in Perth and Peel and immediate surrounds, including the improved protection and management of Bush Forever sites;
- The establishment of the Peel Regional Park and Peel Harvey marine management area to help protect the habitat of migratory and shore birds while supporting recreational and commercial fishing;
- A suite of measures to improve protection and management of threatened species, wetlands of international significance and threatened ecological communities; and
- The introduction of mandatory soil testing regulation to reduce nutrient runoff into the Swan Canning and Peel Harvey coastal plain catchments.
Planning Minister John Day said this work had been developed alongside the draft Perth and Peel @3.5million sub-regional planning frameworks which were released earlier this year.
"The draft plan, along with the planning frameworks, represent a 21st century approach to land-use planning and environmental protection," Mr Day said.
"They deliver much greater certainty for the future development of homes, businesses and supporting infrastructure while ensuring the protection of the environment as our population grows by almost 70 per cent in the coming decades.
"Extensive work has been undertaken to locate future infrastructure corridors together and deliver multiple types of development over time in the one area, such as basic raw materials and industrial land, which greatly reduces the amount of vegetation clearing."
Environment Minister Albert Jacob said the plan streamlined development approvals while offering robust protection for WA's unique biodiversity.
"The plan delivers a comprehensive environmental package which strengthens the protection, management and restoration of key environmental assets and sets aside a significant amount of additional land for conservation," Mr Jacob said.
"Actions include protecting threatened plants and animals such as the Carnaby's cockatoo and western swamp tortoise, and improving the water quality of the Swan Canning and Peel Harvey estuaries.
"A minimum of 116,000 hectares of habitat that supports Carnaby's cockatoos will be reserved with actions to rehabilitate and improve feeding and breeding sites.
"The harvesting of introduced pine trees will alter cockatoo food resources, however, their removal is essential for better management of Perth's main drinking water aquifer. Improved groundwater recharge will also help protect other groundwater dependent threatened species and ecological communities."
The Premier said this was a whole of State Government approach and encouraged the community to provide their feedback during the consultation period.