Australia: Property, Environment & Planning in NSW: Planning and environment: evolution rather than revolution

Last Updated: 8 February 2017
Article by Breellen Warry and Peter Holt

Most Read Contributor in Australia, July 2018

The year began with the establishment of the Greater Sydney Commission and the appointment of the various District Commissioners. It ended with the public release of draft district plans for each of the six Sydney districts.

In March the Minister for Planning announced a series of legislative updates, amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) to give effect to the provisions of the Planning Bill 2013 which were widely supported by stakeholder groups.

The aim had been to make an exposure draft of the Bill available for public comment in the middle of the year a view to introducing the bill into the Parliament in the second half of the year.

Perhaps given the volume of applications, or perhaps given the demands of the Government痴 wider legislative reform agenda, the proposed amendments to the EP&A Act did not materialise in 2016.

That is not to say that 2016 was a quiet year for legislative change. Against the background of forced council amalgamations and in a political year dominated by the greyhound racing ban there were a number of significant legislative changes in the planning and environment space.

The most significant legislative changes were around biodiversity conservation. During the year the Government passed the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and the Local Land Services Amendment Act 2016. Together those two acts replace long standing pieces of environmental legislation, including the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 and substantially overhaul biodiversity laws in NSW (see here).

In addition:

  • The Government also introduced wide ranging changes to the processes around planning and development in the coastal zone.
  • In perhaps the best news in 2016, with the passage of the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Amendment (Container Deposit Scheme) Act 2016, 2017 looks like the year that New South Wales will finally get a container deposit scheme (see here).
  • In response to the acknowledged failures in the compulsory acquisition processes the Government legislated to make a number of changes designed to make the compulsory acquisition processes fairer, transparent and customer friendly for land owners (see here). Those changed are yet to be commenced.

In addition, while the draft bill to give effect to the legislative updates to the EP&A Act did not materialise in 2016, the Government did lay out a roadmap for a series of reforms designed to improve building certification in New South Wales as part of its response to the Lambert Review (see here). Then in October it legislated to improve the flow of information between the main participants in the process, the Building Professionals Board, NSW Fair Trading, the councils and the certifiers.

Furthermore, during the course of 2016:

  • Troubleshooting around the tricky issue of value capture, and wider concerns about the potential misuse of Voluntary Planning Agreements (VPAs), saw the Planning Minister release for public consultation a number of changes to the requirements around VPAs (see here).
  • The Planning Minister moved to improve some of the processes around environmental impact assessment for State significant development and State significant infrastructure (see here).
  • A number of outdated and superseded State environmental planning policies (SEPPs) were repealed as part of a SEPP review program.
  • The Government also exhibited the proposed Coastal Management State Environmental Planning Policy which is to repeal and replace a number of SEPPs including State Environmental Planning Policy No 14佑oastal Wetlands, State Environmental Planning Policy No 26有ittoral Rainforests and State Environmental Planning Policy No 71佑oastal Protection as part of the coastal management reforms.
  • Finally, the Government released an explanation of intended effects setting out a number of changes to State Environmental Planning Policy No 44 - Koala Habitat Protection (see here).

What does 2017 hold?

In all likelihood, the Government will make the proposed Coastal Management SEPP and commence the Coastal Management Act 2016 early in the new year.

The changes to the compulsory acquisition processes are also likely to commence first up.

The Government has also said that it will exhibit the Biodiversity Assessment Method and the draft regulation to support the biodiversity conservation reforms in the first part of 2017.

The Greater Sydney Commission said that the draft district plans will be exhibited until March 2017 with the aim of making the final district plans before the end of 2017.

The start date for the State痴 container deposit scheme is set down for July 2017. With the establishment of a container deposit scheme, 2017 is the year to begin discussions about banning disposable plastic bags.

Hopefully the work of the SEPP review program will continue so that superseded SEPPs are reviewed and repealed to help simplify the system and make it more user friendly.

Perhaps the legislative updates to the EP&A Act will be released for public consultation and it would be good if 2017 were the year when the Government finally gets around to reviewing and remaking the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000. Although if the Sydney housing boom continues, any talk of a grander planning reform narrative will have to wait for another year.

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 individuals listed.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions