Here is what Locak the Gate have to say on the White Paper:
NSW Planning Changes - A Body Blow to Communities Fighting Coal and Gas Mining
The NSW Government has developed a whole new planning system for NSW, which replaces the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. After the long shadow cast by the coal-mining corruption scandals in the Hunter Valley, the Government had promised that the new system would hand power back to communities and improve accountability and transparency.
But nothing could be further from the truth - the new planning system is all about making things even easier for mining companies to get their developments approved. Many safeguards will be lost and none of the gaping holes in the current system will be fixed.
If passed as is, the new planning laws will be a body blow to every community around NSW who is fighting coal and gas developments.
Submissions close on the proposed changes this Friday, 28th June. Please take two minutes to put in a submission.
To make a submission, simply go to the NSW Planning website, here
, and copy and paste the points we have provided below into the submissions box. Don't forget to add your name and address. Feel free to add you own words and thoughts on the proposals.
You can also view the full text of the proposed laws and the white paper here
, and you can read expert opinion on the proposal by the Environmental Defenders Office here
Points for Submissions
The worst failings of the new planning system are:
- The principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) have been removed, which means approving developments takes precedence over social and environmental concerns.
- The community has limited rights to appeal against a decision on coal and gas development, and no rights at all when there has been a public hearing by the Planning Assessment Commission.
- The Community Participation Charter in the Bill is not mandatory and the Minister has enormous discretion to amend or repeal plans or to weaken or remove community consultation.
- The Bill leaves local Councils with no power over mining developments and side-lines all other Government agencies to instead centralise power with the Department of Planning.
- The Bill does nothing to improve Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to address cumulative impacts or to require baseline monitoring or Health Impact Assessments.
- The Strategic Planning Principles ignore the protection of sensitive natural areas and the health of communities and NSW Planning Policies will not have to be approved by Parliament.
- The Bill does nothing to address the inherent conflict of interest in assessment processes which sees mining companies choosing and paying consultants to assess the impacts of their projects.
The proposed Planning Bill 2013 should be amended to:
- Amend clause 1.3 to make ecologically sustainable development (ESD as defined in the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997) the overarching object of the planning laws.
- Require that all decisions, powers, functions and subordinate instruments must be exercised consistently with the principles of ESD.
- Give the community full appeal rights against mining and other state significant developments by removing s 9.6 (3) and s10.12 2 (c).
- Make the Community Participation Charter mandatory, reduce ministerial discretion and include clear legal requirements for consultation, notification and reasons for decision.
- Give local Councils the right to veto mining and gas operations.
- Give NSW Health, the NSW Office of Water and the Environment Protection Authority a full concurrence role in approving coal and gas mining developments.
- Require that Environmental Impact Assessments:
8. Amend s3.3, the Strategic Planning Principles, to:
- Include a rigorous and independent Health Impact Assessment.
- Are preceded by a bioregional assessment of natural and social resources prior to development, that fully assesses cumulative impacts.
- Set best practice standards on economic analyses which require thorough assessment of costs to the community and which consider feasible alternatives.
- Set binding limits on cumulative air, noise, water and carbon emissions and require comprehensive baseline monitoring and real-time, transparent compliance monitoring.
9. Make NSW Planning Policies legal instruments that must be approved by the NSW Parliament.
- Remove the bias towards development (remove point 10 and amend point 1).
- Require ecologically sustainable development and evidence-based planning processes.
- Include the protection of sensitive natural areas and the health of communities, and to require cumulative impact assessments.
10. Create a new system where independent consultants prepare reports on impact for a statutory authority, not the proponents.
11. Require mandatory accreditation of environmental consultants who prepare Environmental Impact Assessments
12. Require external peer-review and auditing of EIA reports and subsequent project outcomes
13. Require decision makers to reject EIA reports that are unsatisfactory or incomplete
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