Public acceptability, efficiency, certainty and clarity, or ‘PECC’, is what the state and Federal environmental approvals systems need to achieve to secure a better future for Perth according to the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA WA).

Speaking at a UDIA WA event focused on the State environmental approvals system and the independent review of the Strategic Assessment of Perth and Peel Regions (SAPPR), UDIA WA CEO Allison Hailes said that while the development industry understands that a ‘business as usual’ approach to urban development in Perth and Peel is not going to last, there needs to be much more certainty and clarity of process for urban development moving forward.

“There is no doubt that we are dealing with complex and critical environmental issues along the Swan Coastal Plain,” Ms Hailes said.  “The environment is of critical importance to our future, however we need to balance this with the competing priorities of delivering affordable housing as well as the growth of Perth to accommodate the extra 1.4 million people that will move here in the next 20 years or so.  Government policy and decision making must take all of these priorities into account”.

“We have almost 100 Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES) in Perth & Peel and we need a better system to deal with those, including more solid scientific research into the impact of urban development and how in some circumstances it can actually deliver improved environmental outcomes,” Ms Hailes said.


The SAPPR was commenced by the previous government in 2011 with the aim of producing a Green Growth Plan (GGP) that identified the urban development footprint for the Perth and Peel areas as well as the conservation areas in the region for the next 30 years.

“UDIA welcomed the State Government’s announcement earlier this year that the SAPPR was to be reviewed, as it had grown significantly in scope, leading to implementation costs that were potentially unrealistic,” Ms Hailes said. “These are costs that risk increasing the cost of new land and housing if not handled strategically.”

“UDIA still supports the original intent of the SAPPR – to streamline Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act approvals – however we want to see it continued in a more transparent, achievable and logical form,” Ms Hailes said.

That logic and transparency seemed to be at the core of SAPPR Independent Review Chair Darren Cooper’s presentation, as he outlined progress of the review to date and reinforced the need for a clear funding model for implementation and industry participation.

Mr Cooper said that the review panel is currently focusing on the detailed cost benefit analysis and is exploring potential funding models.

“The development industry is willing to contribute its fair share to conserve Perth’s environmental values, but shouldn’t have to foot the entire bill,” Ms Hailes said. “We’re hopeful that a revised SAPPR will deliver clarity, certainty and efficiencies in processing that will offset any new costs for industry, so that housing affordability isn’t adversely impacted.”


“It is important to understand that the complexity and delays associated with the environmental approvals system is not just related to new growth areas, it also impacts on infill areas as well,” Ms Hailes said.

“The same State and federal requirements apply to infill areas and now there are a number of local governments implementing their own policy requirements for tree canopy protection, which potentially impacts infill development.  We are also still experiencing local resistance to infill projects, and this needs to be addressed if we are to achieve a balanced outcome of infill and greenfield development on a broader scale,” Ms Hailes said.

“If Perth wants to achieve a more consolidated urban footprint, we need to work together to achieve the best possible outcomes for the environment and for the community,” Ms Hailes said.