David Bray , of  Wingham NSW, made the following submission on the project:

Legislative Updates

Dear Sir/Madam,

Environmental protection legislation in NSW has evolved over three decades as new information became available and practices were improved. The majority of developers have worked with the process and, in my experience with them at least, they have supported the aims of achieving good outcomes for both communities and the environment. The legislation is generally not required for them as they would adopt these practices as a matter of course.

However, a few developers do not value environmental concerns. It is in these cases that the legislation is required and needs to be enforced. Unfortunately, the proposed changes to the legislation appear to negate it's very purpose.

The basic issue is a complex one: how to embed an expanding population into the environment with minimal damage to it. The legislation to achieve this, by necessity, is also complex. This complexity means that it provides occasional loopholes which can be exploited by developers. Hence, development proposals require detailed scrutiny.

The proposed changes include: new ‘step in’ powers for the Secretary of the Department of Planning and Environment; the introduction of additional internal review rights for proponents, with little transparency or equivalent rights for the community or public interest; and provisions that would allow the Minister to require local planning panels to make decisions in place of local councils. Such changes will undoubtedly reduce the 'red tape' impeding development, but will also bypass the important aspects of the scrutiny process. This will greatly reduce the value of the legislation and leave it open to the criticism that it is mere 'window dressing'.

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 biodiversity offsetting and requiring decision makers to better consider and respond to the impacts of climate change.

Yours sincerely,
David Bray