III. ANALYSIS OF THE TYPES OF MEASURES BEING USED AT THE SECTOR LEVEL INTEGRATE ENVIRONMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS INTO THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESSES
D. Proposed environmental regulation framework and underlying principles
1. Seven major principles
The new proposals are based on seven major principles: certainty and integrity; transparency; consultation and communication; flexibility and practicality; cost-effectiveness and efficiency; the "polluter pays"; and the integration of economic and environmental decision-making.
(a)Certainty and integrity
The objective is to provide potential investors with some assurance that their investments will not be subject to unexpected changes. The intention is to develop a nationally consistent approach to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental standards, with the environmental concerns being addressed at the earliest stages of the project formulation process. The Department of Environment and Conservation is making efforts to establish environmental standards and prescribe clear processes for obtaining environmental approvals. It is hoped that such actions will provide the government, the community and industry with clear directions for setting environmental rules of behaviour for a given development activity.
Environmental decision-making should be based on clear principles which are visible to all. A transparent system promotes confidence and acceptance of decisions, and it demonstrates fairness to all players. In that respect, the Department of Environment and Conservation proposes to publicize the information on which approval decisions are based, except in cases requiring commercial confidentiality.
(c)Consultation and communication
Improved consultation and communication with all stakeholders ensures that everyone understands the issues and has the opportunity to be involved in the development of the regulatory initiatives. Better communication with stakeholders will also ensure that policy decisions are based on reliable information which can be justified.
(d)Flexibility and practicality
A good regulatory system must be able to respond to different developments in a range of environmental settings, and it should recognize and deal with commercial reality, best-practice technology community interests, and the broad goals of the government. By setting individual site specific conditions complemented with baseline standards, the new approach will be able to deal flexibly with a range of activities and environments.
(e)Cost-effectiveness and efficiency
The regulatory system should meet its objectives in an effective and efficient manner at the lowest reasonable cost. The proposal aims at establishing a "one-stop shop" approach to environmental regulation that is efficient and cost-effective, both for the government and for industry.
In the wake of worldwide concern over environmental pollution and degradation, the current thinking is that the costs of environmental degradation should be borne by those responsible and not by the affected community. The Department of Environment and Conservation has proposed that the costs of impact assessment, monitoring and auditing performance should be borne by developers rather than the government. Alternatively, those costs which are borne by the government should be recouped through the imposition of fees.
(g)Integration of economic and environmental decision-making
An interesting feature of the proposed approach to the integration of economic and environmental decision-making is the intention to incorporate environmental costs in feasibility studies of new projects. Previously, such costs were ignored. Under the current proposals, an otherwise viable project will not be financially feasible or may become marginal once the environmental costs are added in. Such an approach will force developers and decision-makers to seriously consider the environmental effects as well as measures to mitigate such effects.