Operational review of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (NSW), the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW), and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Commonwealth)
Authors: NSW Department of Planning (DoP), the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC), the Australian Government Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) and Brian Gilligan
24 July 2009
- Operational review of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (NSW), the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW), and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Commonwealth) - final report (PDF - 987 KB) | (Word - 1.27 MB)
Aligning NSW and Federal Planning and Environmental Approvals
The heads of three government departments have joined together to lead their agencies in reviewing and improving the administration of NSW and federal planning and environmental laws.
The focus is on projects that require approval under federal and state environmental laws. The goal is to further cut unnecessary duplication, delay and red tape, and to improve the quality of environment protection outcomes.
The leaders, their departments and the laws they administer are as follows:
- Robyn Kruk AM, Secretary of the federal Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, administering the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act
- Lisa Corbyn, Director General of the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water, administering the Threatened Species Conservation Act
- Sam Haddad, Director General of the NSW Department of Planning, administering the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act
The review was independently convened by Brian Gilligan, a former Director-General of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
A review of current practice has been completed, and 14 recommendations for action have been identified. The actions focus on:
- Operational communication and coordination - to ensure that proponents, government agencies and councils are all better informed about the laws and better connected with each other. Early identification of issues and joint assessments will greatly assist in streamlining assessment and approval processes.
- Strategic Approaches - to identify broad area priorities and determinations up-front, opening up opportunities to achieve landscape and wide scale conservation actions and reduce red tape at site level.
- Environmental offsets - recognising that it is not always possible to avoid or eliminate environmental impacts, to identify joint approaches that cost effectively compensate for unavoidable affects.
- Listing of threatened species - aiming to align the approaches to listing of species and ecological communities that are under threat at state and national level.
An executive level implementation group has been established to drive all 14 recommendations through to completion. This group meets monthly to ensure that action is coordinated and meets milestones, and reports progress to the CEOs.
The three leaders agreed they would each commit their agencies to work more closely together to deliver a seamless approach in administering environmental planning and assessment laws, to benefit both the economy and the environment. They also agreed to drive deeper reforms over time to further upgrade the ways that the laws operate together.
About the report
In April 2009 the Chief Executive Officers of the NSW and Australian agencies responsible for administering planning and environmental legislation commissioned an operational review of the way those agencies interact on the assessment and approvals for threatened species, to streamline assessment and decision making while ensuring strong environmental outcomes. A team comprising representatives of the NSW Department of Planning (DoP), the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC) and the Australian Government Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) was independently convened by Brian Gilligan to undertake the review during May and June 2009.
Both the Australian and NSW governments have statutory responsibilities for biodiversity conservation and environment protection. The operational linkages between the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (NSW) (TSC Act), the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW) (EP&A Act), and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Commonwealth) (EPBC Act), and interactions between agencies administering the Acts, have been reviewed.
The nature and implications of jurisdictional overlap in assessment and approval processes relating to impacts on matters of national environmental significance (NES) as defined in the EPBC Act, such as Ramsar wetlands and migratory birds were a particular focus. Differences in definitions, assessment criteria, and procedures for the listing of threatened species and ecological communities were also considered.