Premier Colin Barnett has vowed to split up the Department of Environment and Conservation if re-elected, in a move that would be the biggest shake up of environmental management in WA in years.
Launching the policy in Bunbury today, Mr Barnett said he wanted to separate the two core functions of the DEC: management of WA’s conservation estate and environmental licensing and regulation.
The plan would see the creation of the Western Australian Parks Authority, which would look after the State's 100 national parks, State forests, nature and conservation reserves and 13 marine parks.
“A dedicated WAPA will focus on providing the highest possible protection for our parks and reserves from environmental degradation and provide high quality access to unique environments for people to enjoy,” Mr Barnett said.
“We have some of the most spectacular national parks in the world, like Karijini National Park and Cape Le Grand National Park, and it makes sense to have a dedicated authority focused on their management.”
While land management would be given to the WAPA, environmental regulation would be hived off into another new agency, the Department of Environment Regulation.
This department would also be responsible for the Waste Authority.
Environment Minister Bill Marmion claimed the policy was a significant improvement on current arrangements and would “increase transparency, reduce duplication and streamline approval processes”.
In a statement, the Liberal Party said arrangements for the two new agencies would be in place by 2014.
Planning for the WAPA’s new headquarters would start after July 1, with construction to start in the first half of next year.
As part of the announcement, Mr Barnett also revealed a re-elected Liberal Government would stump up $20 million over four years for new and upgraded facilities in 11 national parks.There would also be money to establish the new WAPA headquarters in Bunbury.