EPA review must not leave out flawed decisions such as Mangles Bay canal estate

Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren says that a review of the EPA’s policies and procedures announced by the Environment Minister today will be meaningless unless it reviews whether the EPA made other invalid decisions besides on Roe 8. 

“Like the plan to drive a freeway through the Beeliar Wetlands, the proposed Mangles Bay Inland Marina for Cockburn Sound will also cause irrevocable harm to the environment but has been approved by the EPA and Minister under the same offset policy that Chief Justice Martin found was ignored on Roe 8,” Ms MacLaren said. 

“When the EPA gave the green light for the controversial Mangles Bay proposal in April 2013 the decision was universally regarded by scientists and conservationists as a serious failure by the Authority to make a proper assessment. 

“The proposed canal estate will reduce water quality in Cockburn Sound, destroy a critical fish nursery, some of the Sound’s few remaining healthy seagrass beds and critical foraging habitat for penguins from Penguin Island, see 40ha of public bushland designated as Bush Forever turned into private housing lots and impact three Threatened Ecological Communities and Lake Richmond. 

“The project was widely criticised by government agencies including the Conservation Commission, which pointed out in its appeal that the proposed offsets were against the State’s environmental offset policy. 

“Despite this, the project was approved by Minister Jacobs in June 2014. It is yet to receive planning approval from the WA Planning Commission. 

“Regarding Roe 8, Chief Justice Martin said the EPA had omitted to refer to its offsets policy in its final report and there was no mention of the policy in minutes of the EPA’s meetings where they deliberated on Roe 8 – these same omissions appear to be true of the EPA’s final report on the Mangles Bay proposal and in the minutes of its meetings about the Mangles Bay proposal, secured by the Greens via Freedom of Information. 

“There must be an independent inquiry into all decisions made by the EPA in relation to its offsets and other policies, including on the Mangles Bay Marina. 

“It should not be up to the community to have to crowdfund and mount a legal case every time the EPA makes an invalid decision that is then endorsed by the Minister.”