Sustainability a winner: Minister

ENVIRONMENTAL protection – and by extension the Department of Environmental Protection – is good for developers.

Far from viewing environmental issues as placing restrictions on developers, they, and the business community, need to see the positives of sustainable development.

In fact, laws forcing environmental awareness on mining companies was once viewed as the biggest threat facing WA’s mining industry.

Now mining companies are winning awards for their environmental management.

WA Environment Minister Cheryl Edwardes told a recent Urban Development Institute of Australia lunch that environmental issues offered developers a good opportunity.

She was there to alleviate concerns in the property industry over who was running WA planning policies – the Planning Commission or the Department of Environmental Protection.

“Its important for business and industry generally to appreciate that development and the environment are not incompatible,” Mrs Edwardes said.

“Integrating sustainability principles into planning is good for business, the environment and the community.

“Integration also ensures that land uses are compatible.”

However, she said that was not always the case.

“That’s why there are existing conflicts between the environment and land use,” the Minister said.

“The planning system has a vital part to play in promoting more sustainable land-use patterns and use of resources.”

The development community also had to take note of changing community attitudes, she said.

“Its expectations in terms of environmental performance continue to increase – and that presents business and industry with an ongoing challenge.”

Mrs Edwardes cited the Ascot Waters development as an example were the developer had used environment problems to its advantage.

“Innovative environmental management enabled a degraded and disused site to be converted into an up-market property development with 75 per cent public open space,” she said.

“The company’s starting point was to be take a pro-active approach to environmental issues, resulting in natural features that are an asset to local residents and the wider community.”

Mrs Edwardes said the aim of the WA Government was to deal with environmental issues up front so as to reduce costs to the developer and provide greater certainty.

She said a memorandum of understanding between the DEP, the Environmental Protection Authority and WAPC and the Ministry of Planning and the relevant ministers – already carried out on an informal basis – would be completed later in the year.

“The challenge facing the land-use industry is to accept the principle of environmentally sustainable development as the driving force in planning and implementing urban development,” Mrs Edwardes said.

“That is the way of the future – the way we can be certain of the worth of our legacy to our children and our grandchildren.

“There is still another good business reason – less tangible, but no less important – the reputation of your company.”

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