A Double Serve of Planning Reform in 2012?

12/01/2012 5:06 am

In our August 2011 post we reported on the NSW Governments major review of the state's key piece of planning legislation. The review is anticipated to lead to a new framework for the NSW Planning System, including draft legislation with a bill to be introduced possibly later this year.

The Gillarad Government looks to be considering an overhaul of national environmental laws in an effort to cut approval times and duplication with the states. The opposition is likely to support changes to the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC) if introduced to the Parliament this year.

Calls for reform are based on the restrictions that numerous government red tape is having on the development industry, including the EPBC and with the need to shift approvals required under federal law to state environment bodies and create a single lodgement and documentation process.

The new Coalition environmental policy aims for a "one-stop shop" process, with shorter time-frames of between 90 and 180 days. Projects not dealt within the time could automatically be given the green light.

A review in 2009 of the 1999 EPBC Act headed by former senior public servant Allan Hawke found it needed to be updated to reduce the regulatory burden.

Any calls for planning reform with the aim of reducing approval time-frames and costs are welcome. However, with the anticipated opposition likely to accompany the debate it is unlikely any meaningful reforms will get up. Fingers crossed the debate won't be turned into argument of simplify approval processes v maintaining environmental standards.