NSW’s planning system has become complex, highly politicised, and delivers poor environmental outcomes, according to an Environmental Defender’s Office NSW report commissioned by the Nature Conservation Council of NSW and Total Environment Centre.
The State of Planning in NSW report presents a convincing case for an overhaul of existing planning laws to re-establish public participation and ensure more transparent planning laws that base decisions on the principles of ecologically sustainable development (ESD).
It identifies 10 key elements needed for an effective new planning act:
1. A focus on strategic planning;
2. Implementing ecologically sustainable development;
3. Improving the objectivity, credibility and cumulative impact review of the environmental impact assessment process;
4. Genuine, appropriate and timely public participation;
5. Transparency and accountability for major public projects;
6. Recognising the pre-eminent role of the Land and Environment Court;
7. Applying a meaningful ‘maintain or improve’ test to key developments;
8. Making planning law climate-ready;
9. Ensuring integration with other environmental legislation; and
10. Regular review of the new Act.
The Nature Conservation Council is calling for a commitment from all parties contesting the NSW election to restore balance, integrity and legitimacy to the NSW planning and development process. Read our blueprint of how the next State government can achieve this in chapter eight of our Natural Advantage election agenda.
Download the full State of Planning in NSW report here, including findings on strategic planning, SEPPs, Part 3A and more than 70 recommendations for restoring ESD and genuine public participation in planning laws.
Read the State government’s response to our report in the article, The Planning minister is too powerful, say green groups by Kelsey Munro (SMH, December 28 2010).