For many people in WA, our working routine has transitioned from daily or swing-based commutes to the office/ work site to remoting from home, or working on a wildly different FIFO roster. Many aspects of the world around us have slowed down and this has resulted in some development and operational projects being temporarily put to sleep.
It is important to note that the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (EP Act) has not been put to sleep and is still in full force. Our regulators are working through approvals and compliance matters on a business as usual manner (with a lot of work from home of course!).
It is critical that you do not let your on-site or desktop-based compliance monitoring, collation and reporting processes lapse. You don’t want a compliance slip-up to mar your reputation with the regulator, or your community stakeholders, potentially impacting your ability to promptly receive future approvals and amendments. On April 6, 2020, the Director General of Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) issued a statement regarding statutory obligations under the EP Act in relation to COVID-19:
“Statutory obligations including Ministerial Statements, water and environmental licence conditions and other regulatory responsibilities, remain in place, subject to any directions issued under the Emergency Management Act 2005 or the Public Health Act 2016”.
We wanted to keep you in the loop in case you missed that announcement, and help keep you in compliance with your requirements. If you feel that COVID- 19 may affect the operation of your projects and compromise your ability to meet your environmental obligations let us help you negotiate an alternate arrangement with the relevant regulator.
While some projects might need to go to sleep for a while, consider what the influx of approval applications might mean for you at the end of this period of isolation and business slow-down. If all of the projects put to sleep for COVID-19 get reawakened at the same time imagine the backlog of approvals that will be sitting with the regulators. Now is the time to determine what is outstanding and take the next step. Are there desktop or field studies that can be undertaken, do you need to dust off an approvals strategy or review some drainage designs to move your project through the permitting process for environmental, planning or mining approvals?
We are here to help if you need us. 360 Environmental is working business as usual – our office staff are working from home and our field teams are active and exempt from the current intra-state travel bans. Drop us a line at email@example.com and our wonderful administrative team will send your query through to the most appropriate Group Leader, or contact us direct:
• Approvals, Strategy and Compliance FelicityJones@360environmental.com.au
• Contaminated Sites JuliePalich@360environmental.com.au
• Ecology ScottWalker@360environmental.com.au
• Water Assessment and Management DraganTutulic@360environmental.com.au
• Workplace Health and Safety GarrethWalker@360environmental.com.au
Most of all, keep safe and look after your mental health, and the health and wellbeing of those around you at this time. WA is a great state, we will get through this.