Chris Maltby , of  Bondi NSW, made the following submission on the project:

Legislative Updates

Submission on the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment Bill 2017

Dear Sir/Madam,

The original purpose of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 was to provide balance between the commercial imperatives and strategic purpose of proposed development with the broader public interest - that of the communities, ecosystems, threatened species, etc facing impacts from proposals. That original purpose amounted to a form of "triple bottom line" accounting for the impact of development, but particularly where those impacts cannot readily be reduced to a dollar amount.

Unfortunately, the original purpose has been eroded by successive governments in the financial interest of developers and big business, so that the planning system regularly fails to deliver positive outcomes for the environment and communities. Much of the resultant development is damaging to future generations and is environmentally unsustainable.

A reconsideration of these purposes is long overdue. Unfortunately, the proposed amendments to the EP&A Act will further reduce the role of communities and local government, and the importance of environmental and social concerns, while lessening overall transparency and further entrenching the financial interest of proponents.

I particularly oppose proposals that will make it easier to override important environmental protections, reduce transparent decision making and limit local planning powers, including:

a) New ‘step in’ powers for the Secretary of the Department of Planning and Environment;
b) The introduction of additional internal review rights for proponents, with little transparency or equivalent rights for the community or public interest; and
c) Provisions that would allow the Minister to require local planning panels to make decisions in place of local councils.

The Bill also fails to address several key environmental and community concerns, including providing absolute protection for areas of high conservation value, strengthening the rules around the deeply flawed system of biodiversity offsets and requiring decision makers to better consider and respond to the impacts of climate change.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Maltby