An overview of the environmental regulatory process for Westport
In early 2024 the state and federal environmental impact assessment process will be initiated for Westport. This will include referral to the WA Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and the Australian Minister for the Environment through the Australian Government Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.
The environmental impact assessment process is expected to take 2-3 years from referral and will involve multiple opportunities for community consultation.
There are two separate referrals as part of Westport: a referral for the maritime infrastructure (shipping channels, breakwater and port facility) and land side infrastructure within the Kwinana Industrial Area, and a referral for Anketell Road (from Kwinana Freeway to the Kwinana Industrial Area).
Information on this page relates to the Westport referral for the maritime infrastructure.
What is referral?
The first step in the environmental impact assessment process is to make a referral to the relevant WA and Australian regulatory bodies.
Making a referral does not mean environmental approval. At referral, the EPA and the Australian Minister for the Environment will only determine if a proposal requires environmental assessment, and if so, what the level of assessment should be. This decision will be made after an opportunity for public comment on the level of assessment, including a seven-day comment period for the WA process and tendays for the federal process.
Considering the complexity of Westport and the significant environmental values associated with Cockburn Sound, the highest level of assessment is expected.
Assessment decision and scoping
Following a decision on the level of assessment, Westport will prepare a draft Environmental Scoping Document (ESD). The purpose of a scoping document is to specify the form, content, indicative timing, and procedure of the public Environmental Review Document (ERD). The scoping document outlines the preliminary key environmental factors, any specific work required and key areas of focus for the environmental review.
A draft scoping document is expected to be made available for a 14-day public comment period with the final versions updated and approved by the EPA following consideration of public submissions.
Public environmental review
Following approval of the scoping document, Westport will prepare its Environmental Review Document. This is expected to be advertised for an 8-12 week public review and comment period.
The EPA will evaluate if the environmental impacts can be managed to meet the objective for each environmental factor. This will likely require appropriate environmental offsets.
State and federal bilateral assessment
Environmental impacts associated with Westport will be assessed under both the WA Environmental Protection Act 1986 and the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act)
Under the Western Australia bilateral agreement for environmental assessments, there is an option for the EPA to undertake the EPBC Act assessment on behalf of the Australian Government (pending the Australian Government’s agreement). If Westport’s environmental assessments were to proceed under the bilateral agreement, the EPA, acting independently, would manage the assessment process, with both the WA and Australian ministers making their respective final approval decisions.
A bilateral assessment pathway is likely to be requested for Westport.
Community opportunities to be involved and provide feedback
Public participation is a key component of environmental impact assessment in WA.
The EP Act and EPBC Act provides for several opportunities throughout the process for public engagement and submissions (as outlined above), via the WA EPA’s consultation hub and the Australian Government’s EPBC Act Public Portal.
In addition, Westport will also be communicating with community throughout the process and providing ongoing opportunities for engagement and feedback.
At the completion of the assessment process, the EPA will publish its assessment report and provide copies to the WA and Australian ministers Anyone can lodge an appeal on the EPA’s report within 14 days of publication.
The WA and Australian ministers will consider the EPA’s assessment report and any appeals before determining, in consultation with other ministers and decision-making authorities, whether the project should be allowed to proceed, and if so, under what conditions.
If the WA Minister for Environment determines that a proposal may be implemented, a Ministerial Approval Statement is issued with a set of conditions.