Planning and Environment Laws

Under pressure from big business and the mining industry, federal and state governments have recently announced an aggressive plan to wind back essential environmental protection laws.  This plan, if it goes ahead, will remove essential federal protection for threatened species and accelerate mining and coal seam gas development in our forests, woodlands and rural landscapes. These threats have very real implications for New South Wales as the state moves through its planning review process.

Handing environmental assessment powers to the states will make it more difficult to ensure state planning laws stand up to heavy pressure from industry and developers.  The federal government must not walk away from its environmental responsibilities and the NSW government must restore balance, integrity and legitimacy into the NSW planning process.  We need an improved regime for assessing major public infrastructure, with early engagement and input from local communities, to improve the decision-making process and local community acceptance of proposals.

Planning Bills introduced into Parliament

Planning Bills introduced into Parliament

On 22 October 2013, Minister for Planning and Infrastructure, Brad Hazzard introduced the Planning Bill 2013 and Planning Administration Bill 2013 into Parliament.

Download the text of the Planning Bill 2013 and download text of the Planning Administration Bill.

More information is available on the Department’s website: www.planning.nsw.gov.au/newplanningsystem

While the Minister has made a number of important changes to the draft legislation, including changes in response to concerns raised by environment and community groups across the state, the system still falls short of a modern planning system that will deliver positive social and environmental outcomes of NSW.

For example:

  • The principles of ESD are not included in the Planning Bill
  • Despite recent announcements by the Minister that code assessment will be limited to growth areas, the Planning Bill does not include any mechanism that limits the application of code assessment and proposed new ‘neighbourhood impact statement’ not mandatory.
  • The “one-stop shop” for environmental approvals remains, overriding important environmental concurrences and the role of expert agencies. We note however that the Director General must act in accordance with advice from the Heritage Council and Rural Fire Services
  • The provisions relating to strategic compatibility certificates remain – but there are now additional safeguards including mandatory community consultation.
  • Community concerns regarding the approval process for State significant development, including broad Ministerial powers and restrictions on appeal rights after a PAC public hearing, remain unaddressed.

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Nature in the Balance

Nature in the balance - Environmental protections at risk under the proposed new planning system for New South Wales

The Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales has prepared a new report highlighting the important role of the planning system in protecting our natural assests and identifying the signicant threats to the environment and communities of the proposed planning system is introduced.

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NSW Planning Reforms

NSW Planning Reforms put the environment and community at risk

The Government claims that its new planning system will “protect the environment and enhance people’s way of life”. However, under the proposed changes to the NSW planning system set out in the White Paper and draft Planning Bill:

  • 80% of all development in NSW will be assessed as complying or code development, with no community consultation and no merit assessment
  • Decision makers will no longer be required to exercise their powers in accordance with the principles of ecologically sustainable development
  • Important environment protection zones will be removed, placing natural areas at risk
  • Developers will have new rights of review for rezoning applications, and will be able to apply for strategic compatibility certificates from the Director General to override existing local planning provisions
  • There will be limited accountability for decision makers – including restrictions on appeal rights

These changes represent the most significant backward step on public participation and environment protection in more than a generation, placing our natural areas and resources, and communities at risk.

For more information download a copy of the joint NCC/TEC submission to the White Paper and Exposure Planning Bills.

We encourage you to TAKE ACTION TODAY. Read further to find out what you can do.

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Taking away the slingshot

This Daily Telegraph has reported that proposed changes to the state’s planning laws will make it much harder for communities to challenge approvals for destructive development.

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White Paper Submission

The Nature Conservation Council of NSW and Total Environment Centre have lodged their joint submission on the White Paper.

As outlined in the Executive Summary:

In our view, the White Paper and Exposure Planning Bills are seriously flawed. Unamended, they will comprehensively fail to provide an adequate framework for a new planning system for NSW that ensures meaningful community participation, protection of the environment, heritage and community well-being, and avoidance of corruption risks. Rather, there is an overemphasis on economic growth, and facilitation of development, at all costs.

We urge the Government to abandon the Exposure Planning Bills and present an entirely new proposal for a planning system that will provide positive and balanced environmental, social and economic outcomes for NSW into the future. It is imperative to ensure that economic growth takes place within the physical capacity of the environment, having regard to the significant environmental, social and economic costs of unsustainable, poorly planned development.

This submission identifies the organisations key concerns with the White Paper and Exposure Planning Bill 2013 and provides recommendations for addressing these key concerns. A copy is available to download below.

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Have your say on sweeping changes to NSW planning laws

It's time to take a stand against the most significant changes to our state's planning and environmental laws in a generation.

Recently, the NSW Government released its planning White Paper together with a draft Planning Bill.

The sweeping planning reforms proposed in the White Paper signal a significant backward step for public participation and environmental assessment.

The White Paper proposes applying a fast track ‘code assessment’ approach to more than 80% of developments, including commercial buildings, apartment blocks and land subdivisions. Local councils will not be able to refuse proposals which comply with relevant codes.

The White Paper and Exposure Bill can be downloaded from the Department's website.

Submissions on the White Paper and Exposure Bill can be made until 28 June 2013.

NCC has prepared a Submission Guide to assist members and supporters in preparing their own submissions to the White Paper. The submission guide, and other useful information, is available to download below.

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Community voice silenced in 80 per cent of development decisions

Local residents will be denied a say in 80 per cent of development decisions under sweeping planning reforms unveiled today by the state government, according to the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.

“This is the most significant backward step on public participation in more than a generation,” said Pepe Clarke, NCC Chief Executive Officer.

“Since the current planning legislationwas introduced in 1979, members of the community have had a right to comment on the large majority of development proposals.

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Take action to protect the laws that protect the places you love

Under pressure from big business and the mining industry, governments are moving forward with an aggressive plan to wind back our environmental protection laws. 

In the guise of cutting ‘green tape’, government and industry propose to hand important federal approval powers to the states, and fast track approvals for large developments. 

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Take action: Raise your concerns about the Green Paper with your local MP

In July 2012, the NSW Government released its Green Paper outlining proposals for a new planning system in NSW. The Government’s vision presents a real threat for the environment and communities.

Developers have been quick to claim that the Green Paper delivers everything they have asked for:

The Urban Taskforce listed 10 key ideas for a better planning system in our submission to the planning review, and the Government’s Green Paper delivers on every one of these”.

        Urban Taskforce Media Release dated 15 July 2012

Submissions to the Green Paper closed on 14 September 2012 and the Government is in the process of preparing a White Paper which will provide further detail on the Government’s proposed new planning system.

We must ensure that developers do not dominate this important reform process. We must maintain the pressure on Government to deliver a planning system that protects the environment and our communities.

TAKE ACTION NOW – Please contact your local MP and raise your concerns with the Government’s proposals for a new planning system in NSW

A template letter and Guide to Meeting your Local MP prepared by the Nature Conservation Council of NSW and Total Environment Centre are available to download below.

For more information please contact the Nature Conservation Council of NSW on (02) 9516 1488 or policy@nccnsw.org.au

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Our Environment, Our Communities: Planning for Sustainable Development

The Nature Conservation of Council of NSW, together with the Total Environment Centre and EDO NSW have launched their report Our Environment, Our Communities – Integrating environmental outcomes and community engagement in the NSW planning system .

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© 2012 Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales Australia Inc. Except where otherwise explicitly authorised, any material on this website which may be construed as electoral material or an electoral matter under any State or Commonwealth Law is authorised by Pepe Clarke, on behalf of the Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales Australia Inc.  Level 2, 5 Wilson Street, Newtown NSW 2042 Tel +61 2 9516 1488 Fax +61 2 8026 8301. Privacy

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