Proposed Tasmanian Land Use Planning and Approvals Legislation Open for Comment

Tuesday 5 December 2017 @ 11.20 a.m. | Corporate & Regulatory | Legal Research

The draft Land Use Planning and Approvals Amendment (Major Projects) Bill 2018 (Tas) (the Draft Bill) has been released and is now open for public submissions and comment until 29 January 2018.

The Draft Bill proposes to make miscellaneous amendments to the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993 as well as the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994.

Purpose of the Draft Bill

The Draft Bill is designed to implement the Tasmanian Government’s major projects reform commitments.  The Bill will provide for a more transparent, dedicated and comprehensive process for assessing complex projects that require a range of permits that are currently required to be sought separately.

Definition of Major Projects

Major Projects are defined at pg 4 of the Consultation Paper & Draft Exposure Bill as being:

"... typically larger, more complex and have broader economic, environmental and social impacts beyond a single municipal area, compared with other development proposals. They also frequently require multiple approvals connected with the use and development of the land, land use planning, environmental and other approvals."

The Need for Change

Currently, major projects are assessed in three different ways, one being the Projects of Regional Significance (PORS) which is a process under the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993. This option was introduced in 2009 to bridge the gap between a normal Development Application (DA) and a Projects of State Significance (POSS) by providing an independent and equitable process for dealing with larger and more complex projects.

Since the introduction of the PORS process, some concerns have been raised that it has not been used effectively, as interested parties have continued to use other development, assessment and approval pathways that are not necessarily designed for, or well suited to, assessing complex regional projects that require multiple approvals.

Under the PORS process, proponents could be required to spend large amounts of time and money preparing detailed reports and studies to satisfy technical requirements for land use planning and environmental issues before they even know whether their proposal meets the basic criteria for approval - this has been identified as being a disincentive to potential parties entering the process and not being attractive to encourage investment.

The Proposed Reforms

The Draft Bill’s Fact Sheet indicates that the proposed reforms include:

  • Clarification on the types of projects that are eligible to be declared as major projects and assessed by an independent and expert Development Assessment Panel that is appointed by the Tasmanian Planning Commission, and by other participating regulators under their relevant project-associated Act;
  • An expanded suite of approvals through a single co-ordinated assessment process and single permit. These include approvals under planning, utilities, environmental, Aboriginal cultural heritage, historic cultural heritage, threatened species and nature conservation legislation;
  • Greater certainty for proponents through a “no reasonable prospect” test early in the assessment process and prior to the preparation of a Major Project Impact Statement; and
  • Improved community consultation and engagement, including public exhibition of the proponent’s Major Project Proposal and Major Project Impact Statement, and the Development Assessment Panel’s draft and final Assessment Guidelines and draft Assessment Report.

Core Features to be Retained

Whilst there are proposed changes, it is anticipated that some of the core features of the current PORS assessment process will be retained, including:

  • An independent assessment by an expert Development Assessment Panel established by the Tasmanian Planning Commission, and by participating regulators;
  • A co-ordinated assessment and combined permit approval process; and
  • Accreditation of the environmental assessment process under the Commonwealth’s Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act).

It is expected that any changes will be finalised following the consultation period on the Draft Bill.

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Tasmanian Planning Reform - Major Projects Reform: An Overview Fact Sheet 1

Tasmanian Planning Reform – Major Projects reforms - Invitation to comment

Consultation Paper & Draft Exposure Bill

[Draft] Land Use Planning and Approvals Amendment (Major Projects) Bill 2018 [Tas] - Bill and supporting information available from TimeBase LawOne Service.

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