WA's planning chief and one of the State's biggest property developers have called for Federal green tape to be cut, saying project delays in Perth are being compounded by badly designed laws.

WA Planning Commission chairman Gary Prattley has spoken out against the Commonwealth's environmental legislation amid a review of how it is being applied in Perth.

He said the law, the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, was inefficient because it duplicated State laws and was applied to projects in an ad hoc way.

Under the EPBC Act, Federal environmental assessment of a project is triggered if it affects fauna and flora covered by the law, often regardless of how minor the effect is likely to be.

Mr Prattley said it was leading to blowouts in project budgets and timeframes and came despite prolonged efforts by authorities in WA to protect urban bush in Perth.

"I think we need to get back to a point where the areas we have got zoned for urban development are cleared for urban development and the areas we're protecting are protected - and not creating major delays and in some cases major cost increases," he said.

He was backed by developer Nigel Satterley, who said improving the environmental approvals process was one of the most important challenges facing Australia.

He said developers recognised the imperative to conserve native bush and species but it did not make sense for projects to be subjected to different and essentially identical approvals processes.

A joint WA and Federal Government review is examining whether the administration of the law needs to be changed.

The review, announced in August last year, aims to cut red tape and fast-track approvals processes because the system "doesn't necessarily lead to better environmental or planning outcomes".

However, conservationists have expressed disquiet about the review, which they claim could be used to justify the removal of important environmental protections for threatened species.

The West Australian

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