Most Read Contributor in Australia, September 2016
In 2014, NSW was expected to have a new planning act, following
the introduction of the Planning Bill 2013 to Parliament
in October 2013. The Bill constituted the most significant changes
to land use planning legislation since the Environmental
Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A
Act) was first introduced. After it was passed by
Legislative Council with 51 amendments, the Bill was returned to
the Legislative Assembly for concurrence, but was rejected. It is
now on hold.
2014 also saw the repeal of the carbon pricing scheme and the
passing of legislation for the establishment of the Abbott
Government's Emissions Reduction Fund.
Aside from this, many of the changes to planning and
environmental law and policy in 2014 have focussed on:
stricter compliance and strengthened enforcement measures to
empower agencies and target repeat offenders; and
streamlining planning and environmental assessment processes at
both a State and Federal level.
Some of the other key policy and legislative developments in
2014 are outlined below:
New South Wales
Waste management featured as a high priority on the NSW
Environment Protection Authority's (EPAs)
agenda in 2014. Significantly,
new waste regulations saw changes to the waste levy, reduced
licensing thresholds for waste activities and changes to waste
The Protection of the Environment Legislation Amendment Bill
2014 was assented to on 28 October 2014. The Bill introduces
high penalties for contamination offences, increased sentencing
options for Courts and the ability for the EPA to accept
enforceable undertakings and financial assurances. In addition, the
EPA may issue clean-up notices under the Protection of the
Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) to
owners of premises, as an alternative to occupiers, in certain
circumstances. The amendments have not yet commenced.
Amendments were also assented to the EP&A Act in November
2014 which will introduce a
new offence regime modelled on the POEO Act including a
three-tier offence regime and strengthened investigation and
enforcements powers for councils. The amendments have not yet
Greater certainty around the provision of biodiversity offsets
was also introduced through the publication of OEH's NSW
Biodiversity Offsets Policy for Major Projects in August
The Minister for the Environment also appointed an independent
panel to undertake a comprehensive review of biodiversity
legislation and policy framework for the management of native
vegetation, threatened species and other protected native plants
and animals in NSW.
The aims of the review include:
to establish simpler, streamlined and more effective
legislation that will facilitate the conservation of
support sustainable development; and
We can expect to see the results of the panel's review
during the course of 2015.
In May 2014, the Commonwealth Department of Environment
(DEC) introduced two bills to amend the
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act
1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act) which implements a
variety of policy and legislative reforms to its environmental
approvals regimes. These Bills are currently before the Senate.
The reforms also include DEC's "One Stop Shop"
policy for environmental approvals. The key feature for achieving
this reform has been the negotiation of assessment and approval
bilateral agreements between the Commonwealth and
States/Territories under existing provisions of the EPBC Act. A
draft approval bilateral which provides for the accreditation of
NSW planning and environmental assessment processes was placed on
public exhibition mid way through 2014. In addition, a draft
revised assessment bilateral (which is to replace the existing
December 2013 approval bilateral) is on exhibition until February
This publication does not deal with every important topic or
change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute
for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's
specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of
interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice
relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named
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