- Lapsing of SSD conditions which are obsolete or duplicated in another approval – There are proposals to make new and existing conditions of development consents for SSD to “lapse” or be “modernised”. These include:
- Some conditions of consent may provide that the condition will lapse on the issue of an approval under other legislation with substantially similar conditions. This is intended to avoid duplication in regulatory oversight of activities. This is relevant to, for example, proponents who hold an environmental protection licence (EPL) under the POEO Act, as conflicting or obsolete conditions under a planning approval are often an issue for also complying with the EPL for the premises. While this process of making approvals more consistent is welcomed, it is noted that this amendment does not address any inconsistency or overlap between conditions imposed under approvals granted under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) and development consents granted under EP&A Act.
- The Minister may also vary or revoke monitoring or environmental audit requirements in certain existing planning approvals, where those planning approvals require monitoring or auditing to be to the Minister’s satisfaction. This is intended to provide greater flexibility to ensure that conditions in older consents remain relevant, contemporary and enforceable. There is no current particular mechanism for a proponent to request such an update. The proposed reform may apply where an approval contains obsolete conditions either inconsistent with modern monitoring or auditing standards, or the proponent’s other regulatory obligations such as in EPLs.
- Part 3A – Transitional provisions relating to former Part 3A projects relating to modifications will be discontinued. Existing approvals under Part 3A or the transitional provisions will be transitioned to either SSD or State significant infrastructure (SSI) pathways (save for projects where construction is completed or underway). There will be a “two-month window” for proponents to apply for a modification under former s75W, after which, any modifications must be applied for under SSD or SSI pathways. The significance of this proposed change is that the power to modify SSD/SSI projects is narrower than the power to modify Part 3A projects under former s75W of the EP&A Act. The ongoing effect of approved Part 3A concept plans will be preserved.
- Building certification –Key provisions relating to building regulation and certification should become clearer to understand, by being consolidated into a single part of the EP&A Act.
The proposed amendments are expected to be introduced into Parliament shortly, following public consultation. If implemented, they will mean substantial changes to obtaining approval, and will also have implications for a number of existing approvals.
If you require further advice on what the proposed reforms will mean for your developments, please contact us for more information.
Full details of the proposed amendments, including the draft Bill and a summary of the changes may be found on the DPE website.