Nature Conervation Council says NSW planning reform must go back to drawing board
Government must go back to the drawing board to achieve a sustainable and just planning system
Two of the state’s leading environment organisations have called on the O’Farrell government to overhaul its planning reforms to reinstate environment protection, ensure genuine community participation and make them corruption-proof.
The Nature Conservation Council of NSW (NCC) and the Total Environment Centre (TEC), which have lodged a joint submission on the draft Planning Bill and White Paper, said the reforms were so far from the original recommendations by Tim Moore and Ron Dyer they were now just a developer’s recipe book without any effective community or environmental balance.
“If carried through, communities around the state will see treasured natural environments thrashed, major social impacts and developers holding the whip hand in the decision-making process. It’s completely unacceptable and if the government wants community support, it will have to make dramatic changes,” said Jeff Angel, Executive Director of TEC.
NCC Chief Executive Officer Pepe Clarke said: “It is imperative 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.
“When it was introduced in 1979, the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act was celebrated as one of the most progressive pieces of environmental legislation in the world.
“The government’s proposed changes represent the most significant backward step in public participation and environment protection in more than a generation – they must not become law.”
Key issues identified in the groups’ joint submission include:
- The removal of the principles of ecologically sustainable development, including the precautionary principle;
- The proposal to have 80% of development in NSW assessed as complying or code assessment, with no community consultation and no assessment of the environmental and social impacts of proposed development;
- Proposals to reduce the number of environment protection zones, removing important protection for hundreds of thousands of hectares of land in NSW;
- Provisions that seek to restrict third-party merit appeal proceedings and judicial review proceedings (despite statements that appeal rights will not be changed in the new planning system) and prevent enforcement of community participation; and
- Failure to heed the advice of the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Total Environment Centre Executive Director Jeff Angel, 0418 273 773, 02 9211 5022.
Nature Conservation Council Media and Communications Officer James Tremain,
0419 272 254 or 9516 0206.