Challenge to proposed mining objection fees

South West NRM and its Association Members have added their collective voices to objections by other WA environment leaders over a State Government proposal to begin charging almost $1,000 for lodging objections to mining activities.

In a submission to the Department of Mines Industry Regulation & Safety, South West NRM CEO Sally Wilkinson said the proposed figure was introduced an unacceptably high financial barrier for citizens of WA wishing to object to mining activities they believed would have a negative
impact on the environment, community, culture or economy.

“We believe the introduction of a prescribed fee for lodgement of objections would have a significant impact on the ability of community members, not for profits, Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Corporations to raise concerns about potential mining impacts,” Ms Wilkinson said.

“In addition a significant fee imposed on making an objection may also cause to deny the decision-maker information critical to mitigating impacts at a cultural, social or environmental level.”

South West NRM acknowledged the need for cost recovery of administrative processes but suggested costs should be borne by the proponents of the mining activities who had substantially more resources than those who would seek to lodge objections.

“Or at least supplemented by the proponent such that fees incurred by parties objecting may be greatly reduced from the proposed $859, in line with minimal fees charged in other states,” Ms Wilkinson said.

DMIR’s consultation paper regarding the issue noted that three out of seven states had NIL fees applied to objections and that in other states, the fees applied to lodging an objection ranged from $18-$49.84 or were scaled.

“As noted in the consultation paper, the number of objections in the WA mining jurisdiction was significantly greater than in other states. This correlates to the number and extent of mining activities both proposed and implemented across Western Australia and thus provides a rationale as to why a flat fee of several hundred dollars should not be applied
in the WA context,” she said.

“The South West of WA is a biodiversity hotspot – internationally renowned for its biodiversity values and assets.

“It is vital the community maintain the right to bring to the attention of proponents and decision-makers where impacts from mining activities may have negative impacts on Western Australia’s unique biology and diversity.”

South West NRMs submission to the Department of Mines Industry Regulation & Safety was co-signed by the following Members of its Association:

  • Leschenault Catchment Council
  • South Forest Community Landcare
  • Blackwood Basin Group
  • Katanning Landcare
  • Geographe Catchment Council