Comment on draft information guidelines for advice from the Independent Expert Scientific Committee

The MCA supports greater investment in improving the understanding of water systems and resources and the development of a scientific information base to inform planning and environmental decision processes.  Importantly, associated processes such as the collection of data, project assessment and the provision of IESC advice should be efficient, effective and focus on tangible environmental outcomes.

The MCA considers the draft information requirements are a significant improvement on the earlier guidelines. General comments on the draft document are provided below:

  • Early engagement will be critical to effective implementation of the information guidelines particularly when scoping the assessment.In instances where IESC advice is required, there should be tripartite engagement between the regulator (DoE or State based), the Office of Water Science (OWS) and the proponent at the commencement of the process.
  • The MCA supports the adoption of a risk based approach to information requirements. The need to collect information on all matters, regardless of materiality can result in significant efforts/funds directed at understanding lower order issues and divert efforts away from critical matters.  Accordingly, information requirements should focus on those matters which are material in nature and those impacts which likely to be significant.  The MCA suggests consideration should be given to developing a framework or supporting tools to assist both proponents and the OWS in determining these parameters.
  • There is a need to ensure alignment between state and Commonwealth information requirements wherever possible. This will ensure unnecessary duplication is avoided.

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