Planning, Development & Heritage

EDO NSW has produced a number of resources on planning, development and heritage.

EDO NSW undertakes law reform work relevant to planning, development and heritage. Read our submissions below.

EDO NSW represents individuals and community groups in public interest litigation to protect the environment. Read about our past cases on planning, development and heritage.

Our Fact Sheets on this topic include LEPs and SEPPs, development applications and consents, Land and Environment Court, and NSW heritage law.

See current opportunities for law reform in this area at Have Your Say about decisions relevant to planning, development and heritage.

Merits report coverMerits Review in Planning in NSW
June 2016

This EDO NSW special report responds to community concerns about the loss of their right to appeal approvals of large resource extraction projects. The report demonstrates that merits review is an essential part of a well-functioning planning system, and shows that there are clear benefits to allowing third party merits review for major projects in NSW.

Read more »

Major review of biodiversity laws by NSW Government

The NSW Government has released a new biodiversity conservation law and policy package that's a serious retrograde step as it involves removing many of NSW’s long-held environmental protections. Read more on our feature page.

Federal handover of environmental powers to the States

The Federal Government’s proposed handover of environmental approval powers to the States will wind back 30 years of legal protection for the environment and put Australia’s World Heritage Areas such as the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu and the Tasmanian forests at risk. Read more on our feature page.


EDO NSW Submission on the Environmental Impact Assessment Improvement Project – Environmental impact assessment for major projects

November 2016 – Download PDF

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment invited EDO NSW to make preliminary comments on stage 1 of its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Improvement Project and high-level discussion paper.

Our comments build on previous submissions on the regulation of major project impacts. After commenting on the initial scope of the Project and eight proposed improvements, we recommend the Project address four issues in more detail: cumulative impacts; climate change; negative effects that ‘streamlining’ can have on public trust; and equitable appeal rights.

We also seek further clarity from the Department on whether the Project will involve legislative reform, and how it intersects with proposed reforms to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Crown Land 2016 - EDO NSW submission

July 2016 – Download PDF

We support the Government’s aims to clarify and harmonise the complex laws on managing Crown lands to ensure the environmental and cultural values of Crown lands are recognised and protected.

In our submission, we reiterate recommendations made in previous submissions: our 10 principles for Crown lands management from our 2014 submission on Crown lands; and our Travelling Stock Reserves submission (December 2015).

We also make recommendations about the best process for changing the laws. We recommend public consultation on an exposure draft Crown Lands Bill prior to introduction to Parliament. This would improve the legislation and strengthen community confidence in the process and outcomes of any reforms. 

NSW Biodiversity Law Reform Package 2016 - EDO NSW submissions

June 2016

Submission on the draft Biodiversity Conservation Bill 2016 - Download PDF

Submission on the draft Local Land Services Amendment Bill 2016 - Download PDF

Technical submission on the Biodiversity Assessment Method and Mapping Method 2016 - Download PDF

Technical submission on the draft Offsets Payment Calculator - Download PDF

Find out more about the reform package, including EDO NSW blogs and workshop slides.

EDO NSW has been making recommendations for strong biodiversity, native vegetation and land management laws since 1995. We were heavily involved in the development of the current Native Vegetation Act between 2002 and 2005. 

We met with the Independent Biodiversity Legislation Review Panel during their deliberations and produced A Legal Assessment of NSW Biodiversity Legislation to assist the panel. We engaged with representatives of the Office of Environment & Heritage, Department of Primary Industries and Department of Planning during targeted stakeholder consultations prior to the public exhibition process. We raised a number of key concerns and made recommendations in these meetings based on our extensive expertise in NSW environmental law.

Unfortunately none of these fundamental concerns or recommendations were addressed in the package developed for public consultation. 

These submissions detail our conclusion that the proposed laws are a retrograde step for NSW biodiversity and land management. While the proposed investment private land conservation is welcome, once this money runs out, we will be left with weak laws that offer no real protection for our unique threatened species and ecological communities and will facilitate ongoing decline in biodiversity. Consequently, we cannot support the proposed package.

Through a series of workshops, seminars and forums, we have spoken to local communities, Landcare members, Local Land Services officers, local councils, ecological consultants, private land conservation agreement holders, Aboriginal people, conservationists, wildlife carers, and private individuals through our advice line. Areas covered include: Hunter, Greater Sydney, North Coast, Northern Tablelands, South East and Central West. We discussed concerns with over 600 people. With the exception of representatives of the NSW Farmers Association, no-one we spoke to told us the proposed laws were an improvement on current laws, and almost all participants were seriously concerned at the implications of the new regime for biodiversity.

Review of Complying Development for Inland NSW - EDO NSW submission

May 2016 – Download PDF

The NSW Government’s Review of Complying Development for Inland NSW proposes to amend State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development) 2008 to amend and expand code-based assessment.

We have identified a number of critical issues that need to be addressed. These issues are set out in our submission and reiterated in our Submission on Options for Low Rise Medium Density Housing as Complying Development (February 2016).

We submit that appropriate governance arrangements need to be in place before the Policy is expanded, and raise concerns that the proposed amendments will result in unforeseen cumulative impacts, including on sensitive environmental areas.

We raise further concerns that consultation for the Policy is occurring before a draft exposure Bill proposing to amend the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act has been placed on public exhibition, as it is difficult to properly assess how these reform processes will interact and how they will affect the community and environment.

Community Consultative Committee Guidelines – State Significant Projects - EDO NSW submission

April 2016 - Download PDF

We support the intent to update and strengthen guidelines for CCCs. Our submission draws on comments and feedback from EDO NSW clients who have been, and continue to be, involved in committees in their local communities.

In our submission, we recommend strengthening and clarifying the CCC guidelines across seven areas: the independent chair; community membership; early engagement; data and research; meeting protocol; training and interaction with other committees. Recommendations on each of these are detailed in the submission.


Submission on Options for Low Rise Medium Density Housing as Complying Development

February 2016 - Download PDF

The NSW Government is proposing to expand complying development rules to allow medium density housing – such as dual occupancies, manor houses and 3 to 10 dwellings on a single lot – to be assessed and certified by private certifiers under a code, rather than through a development assessment process.

EDO NSW's submission emphasises that:

  • exempt and complying development processes must only be used for genuinely minor, low-impact developments;
  • exempt and complying development should not occur in environmentally sensitive areas; and
  • cumulative impacts of multiple developments must be taken into account.

We also submit that use of the code should not be extended, even for low-impact developments, until serious accountability, quality control and transparency issues are addressed in relation to the use of private certifiers, and until building efficiency and sustainability standards have been strengthened.

Submission responding to the NSW Coastal Management Reforms

February 2016 - Download PDF

Our submission, EDO NSW identifies seven Key Actions that are necessary to conserve sensitive coastal environments, build resilience to the impacts of climate change and ensure that all development in the coastal zone is consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development. These Actions are:

  1. A catchment-based approach to coastal management, supported by appropriate mapping 
  2. An emphasis on strategic planning and proper assessment of cumulative impacts 
  3. The creation of ‘red flag areas’ to protect sensitive coastal environments 
  4. The acquisition of sensitive coastal areas by the NSW Government 
  5. Development controls that are in all instances consistent with ESD 
  6. A new approach to managing sea level rise in NSW 
  7. Appropriate resourcing to facilitate compliance and enforcement

Submission to the Inquiry into regional planning processes in NSW

February 2016 - Download PDF

This EDO NSW submission focuses on five issues that are critical to regional planning:

  1. Ecologically sustainable development (ESD) – confirm ESD as an overarching guiding principle for regional development.
  2. Strategic planning – should be legislated, coordinated, evidence-based, apply ESD principles, and maintain or improve environmental outcomes to support our society and economy. 
  3. Natural resource management (NRM) goals and data – adopt statewide NRM goals and targets that can apply to the regions. Invest in data on ecosystems their services, including a state environmental accounts framework.
  4. Climate change readiness – NSW needs a greenhouse mitigation strategy and targets linked to the planning system. Any future regional planning framework must consider climate change risks and impacts (mitigation and adaptation).
  5. Community engagement – regional communities, including Aboriginal communities and Traditional Owners, should have better, earlier and more accessible ways to help plan the future of their towns, cities and environments.

EDO NSW submission on the NSW Travelling Stock Reserves State Planning Framework 2016-19

3 December 2015 - Download PDF

We recommend the draft Framework be developed and clarified for the following issues:

  • Integration with other legislative, planning and biodiversity frameworks
  • Assessing environmental benefits, cumulative impacts and future threats
  • Primary use classification – methodology, criteria and implications
  • Community engagement, respect and dialogue about TSR roles in the future
  • Recognition of diverse indigenous interests in TSR management
  • Adequate resources and capacity
  • Identifying, monitoring and reporting outcomes
  • Piloting ecosystem services assessment and accounting
  • Legislative change must address community concerns about the wider Crown Lands Review.

EDO NSW submission on Local Land Services Draft State and Local Strategic Plans

20 November 2015 - Download PDF

Our submission makes three key recommendations

  1. Local Land Services (LLS) Strategic Plans should not be finalised until the full suite of LLS responsibilities has been clarified, given the significant changes that have been foreshadowed in relation to native vegetation and biodiversity legislation in NSW. Alternatively, the Strategic Plans should build in a formal review process when a new Biodiversity Conservation Act is passed.

  2. Strategies and performance indicators should be made ‘SMART’ (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely).

  3. The Strategic Plans should better articulate the clear role of LLS in ensuring compliance with environmental and natural resource management legislation.

EDO NSW submission on Draft Industrial Noise Guideline

13 November 2015 - Download PDF

EDO NSW is concerned that proposed changes to noise guidelines will allow for significant increases in noise impacts on rural communities and other communities that currently experience little background noise.

The community reasonably expects that the key regulator for noise in NSW will identify what constitutes unacceptable noise impacts, based on objective criteria, and that this information will also be considered in any project assessment process. We recommend that all projects should be required to assess and implement all reasonable and feasible noise mitigation. Noise mitigation should not only be required once noise exceeds industrial noise trigger levels. We support proposals by the Environmental Protection Authority to strengthen monitoring and compliance arrangements, but greater detail and more transparency is required.

EDO NSW submission on Strategic Release Framework and PRIA Guidelines

6 November 2015 - Download PDF

This is a submission on how the NSW Government identifies and releases new areas for coal and gas exploration. The Government’s draft Framework would be informed by a ‘Preliminary Regional Issues Analysis’, which we also comment on. Our key recommendations are:

  • Implement the Preliminary Assessment and Advisory Body in legislation 
  • Include independent experts and added transparency for the Advisory Body 
  • Consider climate change in the Strategic Framework and Preliminary Assessment Guidelines 
  • the Preliminary Assessment must go beyond existing data (adopting the precautionary principle, clear environmental assessment criteria, exclusion zones and cumulative impact assessment).

EDOs of Australia submission on Draft Outcomes-based Conditions Policy

9 October 2015 - Download PDF

The Australian Government is proposing a shift in focus for EPBC Act approval conditions, where development has significant impacts on a matter of national environmental significance. There are a number of risks and uncertainties that arise from the Draft Policy’s approach. While we support improved condition-setting on development projects, including specific environmental outcomes where possible, a mix of conditions is likely to be appropriate.

We recommend:

  • not proceeding with the Outcomes-based Conditions Policy at present; 
  • a more holistic assessment of the Department’s approach to conditioning, compliance and enforcement (including how to better monitor, achieve and report on environmental outcomes, and increase oversight efficiently); 
  • input from the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) and independent environmental experts (and clear integration with recent ANAO findings); 
  • identification of current strengths, weaknesses and options for reform; and 
  • public consultation on those reform options and departmental proposals.

ANEDO submission to the Freedoms Inquiry on Traditional Rights and Freedoms—Encroachments by Commonwealth Laws

EDOs of Australia has written submissions responding to two reports produced by the Australian Law Reform Commission as part of the ‘Freedoms Inquiry’.

Submission 1: 27 February 2015 - Download PDF
Our first submission explains why strong environmental laws are necessary, and argues that existing laws do not unduly encroach on private interests.

Submission 2: 21 September 2015 - Download PDF 
Our second submission sets out how the EPBC Act and the Water Act respond to modern environmental challenges, and why they are needed if Australia is to meet its international legal obligations. It also provides clear evidence that these Acts do not unduly infringe private property rights, and in certain instances actually protect private property from the impacts associated with development.

Submissions on the Integrated Mining Policy

Stage 1 submission, 9 July 2015 - Download PDF

Stage 2 submission, 7 September 2015 - Download PDF

The NSW Government is proposing a new whole-of-government approach to mining applications through an Integrated Mining Policy. The Government called for public submissions in two stages from May to September 2015. EDO NSW made key submissions at both stages of the consultation.

Read a summary of the key points in our submissions

Submission on State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) Review 2015 – Integration and Repeal of 16 SEPPs

2 July 2015 - Download PDF

Saving Our Species ‘Landscape Species Strategy’ – consultation draft, and Proposed amendments to the Priorities Action Statement

18 September 2015 - Download PDF

This submission to the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage comments on proposed amendments to NSW threatened species priorities, and a Strategy for protecting some species at a landscape scale. It addresses:

  • major ongoing biodiversity law reform and integration of the Priorities Action Statement (PAS);
  • problems with biodiversity protection under planning laws;
  • objectives, indicators, targets and monitoring under the draft Landscape Species Strategy, and
  • PAS amendments for specific species must be transparent, responsive to climate change, and aim to recover species.

Submission on Strategic Assessment of RMS ‘Part 5’ environmental impact assessment procedures to replace EPBC Act assessments/approvals

13 February 2015 - Download PDF 

Submission on Revised NSW Commonwealth Assessment Bilateral Agreement. EDOs of Australia submission.

30 January 2015 - Download PDF 

Submission on 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code of Practice Review

7 November 2014 Download PDF

Submission on EP&A Amendments (Mining and Petroleum) 2014 and the Mining SEPP

July 2014 - Download PDF

Submission on the NSW Crown Lands Management Review

June 2014 - Download PDF

Submission on Draft NSW - Commonwealth Bilateral Approval Agreement

June 2014 - Download PDF

Submission on the Northern Councils Environmental Zones Review

June 2014 - Download PDF

Senate Inquiry into the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Bilateral Agreement Implementation) Bill 2014 and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Cost Recovery) Bill 2014

June 2014 - Download PDF

Submission on the Draft NSW Biodiversity Offsets Policy for Major Projects 

May 2014 - Download PDF

Submission on A New Local Government Act for NSW Final Report

4 April 2014 - Download

Submission on draft planning circular: Coastal hazard notations on s 149 planning certificates.

3 March 2014 - Download PDF

Submission on the Building Sustainability Index (BASIX) Target Review

31 January 2014 - Download PDF

ANEDO submission on the EPBC Act Koala Referral Guidelines

7 February 2014 - Download PDF

Submission on Draft NSW-Commonwealth Bilateral Assessment Agreement

December 2013 - Download PDF

ANEDO submission on streamlining of environmental approvals for offshore petroleum

December 2013 - Download PDF

ANEDO Submission on Productivity Commission Draft Report – Major Projects

September 2013 - Download PDF

NEW EDO NSW White Paper Submission – FINAL 

June 2013 - Download PDF

NEW EDO NSW White Paper Submission – Executive Summary 

June 2013 - Download PDF

ANEDO Submission on Productivity Commission Draft Report: Barriers to Effective Climate Change Adaptation

8 June 2012 - Download PDF

NEW EDO NSW White Paper Submission – Summary of Recommendations 

June 2013 - Download PDF

Submission on the Draft Metro Strategy 

July 2013 - Download PDF

Submission on a new Local Government Act 

July 2013 - Download PDF

ANEDO Submission on Productivity Commission Issues Paper – Major Project Development Assessment Processes

March 2013 - Download PDF

Submission on proposed changes to NSW Exempt and Complying Development Codes

November 2012 - Download PDF

Submission on the proposed amendment of the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009 to require licensees to fund the Upper Hunter Air Quality Monitoring Network

October 2012 - Download PDF

Submission on Draft practice note on Schedule 1 in the Standard Instrument (Additional Permitted Uses)

October 2012 - Download PDF

Submission on A New Planning System for NSW - Green Paper 

September 2012 - Download PDF

Key Issues Summary: NSW Government Planning Review Green Paper - EDO NSW Preliminary Briefing Note 

July 2012 - Download PDF

Submission on Sydney Metropolitan Strategy - Sydney over the next 20 years

29 June 2012 - Download PDF

Key Issues Summary: Submission on the Sydney over the next 20 years discussion paper (revised Metropolitan Strategy)Amendments 

May 2012 - Download PDF

COAG Environmental Reform Agenda: ANEDO Response - In Defence of Environmental Laws

May 2012 - Download PDF

Submission on Standard Instrument Amendments 

29 May 2012 - Download PDF

Submission on the 'More local, more accountable plan making' discussion paper

4 May 2012 - Download PDF

Submission on Strategic Regional Land Use Plans for New England North West and Upper Hunter

3 May 2012 - Download PDF

Submission on Draft NSW Planning Guidelines for Wind Farms

14 March 2012 - Download PDF

Submission to NSW Planning Review Issues Paper (joint with NCC and TEC)

March 2012 - Download PDF

Submission to NSW Planning Review Issues Paper (joint with NCC and TEC) - Annexures

March 2012 - Download PDF

Submission to the Review of the NSW Planning System (Stage 1)

4 November 2011 - Download PDF

Comments on Draft State and Regional Development SEPP 2011

2 September 2011 - Download PDF

ANEDO Submission on the Productivity Commission's Draft Research Report - Performance Benchmarking of Australian Business Regulation: Planning, Zoning and Development Assessments

1 April 2011 - Download PDF

ANEDO Submission on: Our Cities - building a productive, sustainable and liveable future, 2010 Discussion Paper 

3 March 2011 - Download PDF

Affordable Rental Housing SEPP Review 

3 March 2011 - Download PDF

Submission on the proposed Coastal Protection Regulation 2011

February 2011 - Download PDF

Submission on the draft Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2010

5 November 2010 - Download PDF

Submission on the draft Minister's Requirements under the Coastal Protection Act 1979 

10 September 2010 - Download PDF

Submission on the Productivity Commission Issues Paper - Performance Benchmarking of Australian Business Regulation: Planning, Zoning and Development Assessments

17 July 2010 - Download PDF

Submission on the proposed Sydney Growth Centres Strategic Assessment 

25 June 2010 - Download PDF

Submission to the review of the National Building and Jobs Plan (State Infrastructure Delivery) Act 2009

14 May 2010 - Download PDF

Submission on the Discussion Paper for the Metropolitan Strategy Review - Sydney Towards 2036

30 April 2010 - Download PDF

Submission on the review of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007 

12 April 2010 - Download PDF

Comment on the Heritage Amendment Bill 2009

29 May 2009 - Download PDF

Inquiry into NSW Planning Framework

17 March 2009 - Download PDF

ANEDO Submission to the 10 year review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 

January 2009 - Download PDF

ANEDO EPBC Act Submission

30 September 2008 - Contact Us

Submission on the proposed SEPP (Repeal of Concurrence and Referral Provisions) 2008

22 August 2008 - Download PDF

Submission on the NSW Complying Development Planning Codes

4 July 2008 - Download PDF

Submission on the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment Bill 2008

24 April 2008 - Download PDF

Submission on the Discussion Paper: Improving the NSW Planning System

8 February 2008 - Download PDF

Recommendations for reforming planning in NSW

8 January 2008 - Download PDF

Heritage Act Review

9 October 2007 - Download PDF

Comment on proposed amendments to the State Environmental Planning Policy (Major Projects)

25 May 2007 - Download PDF

Submission on A new Direction for Local Government Position Paper

9 March 2007 - Download PDF

Draft Land Owner's Consent Policy 2006

12 February 2007 - Download PDF

Comment on the Draft Agreement between the Australian Government and the State of New South Wales

5 December 2006 - Download PDF

Submission on the Environment and Heritage Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2006- 

27 October 2006 - Download PDF

Submission on the Draft Standard Instrument (Local Environmental Plans) Order 2005

4 November 2005 - Download PDF

Submission on the Environmental Planning and Assessment (Infrastructure and Other Planning Reform) Bill 2005

2 June 2005 - Download PDF

Discussion Paper: Standard provisions for local environment plans in NSW

November 2004 - Download PDF

State Environmental Planning Policy (Application of Development Standards) 2004 - Comments on draft legal instrument and draft planning guideline

18th June 2004 - Contact Us

Submission on the Coastal Protection Regulation 2004

4 June 2004 - Download PDF

Inquiry into Public Transport 

June 2003 - Contact Us

Draft Biodiversity Certification Methodology - EDO NSW submission

July 2010 – Download PDF

ANEDO Submission on EPBC Act: Recommendations for Reform

5 March 2008 - Download PDF

Submission on the DECC Guidelines for Biodiversity certification of environmental planning instruments

21 December 2007 - Download PDF

Submission on draft Gateway process for Strategic Regional Land Use Policy

December 2012 - Download PDF

Submission on corruption risks and the regulation of lobbying in NSW 

25 June 2010 - Download PDF

Submission on the proposed biocertification of the Draft Growth Centres Conservation Plan

18 April 2007 - Download PDF

briefing notes

Northern Councils E Zone Review Final Recommendations Report

December 2015 - Download PDF

This briefing note outlines the NSW Government’s changes to the way that councils can
set land aside for environmental conservation and management in the Far North Coast
of NSW, and the wider implications for the rest of the State.

EPBC Amendment (Bilateral Agreement Implementation) Bill 2014

September 2015 - Download PDF


The EPBC Amendment (Bilateral Agreement Implementation) Bill would make it easier for the Federal Government to pass its oversight of national environmental impacts over to States and Territories. 

ANEDO - Objections to the proposal for an environmental ‘one stop shop’

December 2013 - Download PDF

Preliminary Briefing Note and Key Issues Summary - NSW Government Planning Review - White Paper

May 2013 - Download PDF

Key Issues Summary: NSW Government Planning Review Green Paper - EDO NSW Preliminary Briefing Note 

July 2012 - Download PDF

Changes in Environmental Planning And Assessment Amendment (Part 3A Repeal) Bill 2011

2011 - Download PDF

discussion papers

Planning for climate change: how the NSW planning system can better tackle greenhouse gas emissions

July 2016 - Download PDF

The NSW Government is proposing to make changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. This presents an opportunity to make amendments to address the most important and urgent challenge we face – planning for climate change.

Major projects such as CSG and coal mining continue to receive approval without proper consideration of the future climate impacts of those projects.

In this report, we make 14 key recommendations on how the planning system can be improved to help mitigate the future impacts and costs of climate change.

Please note: Table 1 (on page 10 of the report) has been updated from the version first published. The download above contains the new corrected version. View the updated table » 

For more about why we have released this report, and what it means, read our blog post How can NSW better tackle greenhouse gas emissions?, 27 July 2016.

Merits Review in Planning in NSW

This report demonstrates that merits review is an essential part of the planning system and it is crucial that it continues to be recognised and facilitated in NSW.

In addition, there are clear benefits to allowing third party merits review in relation to major projects in NSW. These benefits relate to improving the consistency, quality and accountability of decision-making in environmental matters. In particular, merits review has facilitated the development of an environmental jurisprudence, enabled better outcomes through conditions, provides scrutiny of decisions and fosters natural justice and fairness. Better environmental and social outcomes and decisions based on ecologically sustainable development is the result.

Merits review has a long history in NSW, being a key element of planning reforms introduced in 1979 to a politicised and overly-complex system in drastic need for reform. The reforms sought to simplify and improve planning in NSW, as well as to depoliticise and take the heat out of decision-making. Fulsome public participation and the establishment of a specialist court – the Land and Environment Court – were key components in this enterprise.

Merits review for developers and third parties in the Land and Environment Court were, in turn, crucial elements in restoring the integrity and legitimacy of planning and decision-making for environmental matters.

Recent moves to limit third party merits review – particularly for resource projects - deprive the broader public of the benefits of good decision-making in environmental matters and serve to undermine the integrity of the planning system. The consistency, quality and accountability of decision-making by merits review undertaken by the Land and Environment Court contrasts with weaker decision-making, poorer outcomes and the inferior processes in public hearings held by the recently established Planning Assessment Commission.

The flow on result is that communities are disempowered and alienated by both the extinguishment of their merits review rights and the weakening of decision-making in environmental matters which, in turn, undermines the integrity of the NSW planning system.

2016 - Download PDF

Read more at our blog by EDO NSW CEO/Principal Solicitor Sue Higginson, The community’s right to participate: what happened to merits review?, 7 July 2016.

Assessment of the adequacy of threatened species & planning laws (Dec 2012)

This report was commissioned by the Places You Love Alliance of more than 35 environment groups and prepared by the Australian Network of Environmental Defender’s Offices Inc (ANEDO).

Based on feedback from EDO offices in each State and Territory, this report outlines the legal framework for managing threatened species in each jurisdiction and identifies some of the key issues in terms of: strengths and weaknesses of the relevant laws, an assessment of whether the laws are effectively implemented and enforced, and some analysis of the interaction of threatened species laws with planning legislation in each jurisdiction.

The report makes a number of key findings.

Our analysis confirms the finding that no state or territory meets all the core requirements of best practice threatened species legislation.

2012 - Download PDF

Our Environment, Our Communities - Integrating environmental outcomes and community engagement in the NSW planning system

This discussion paper has been prepared to inform the NSW Planning Review. This report recognises the intrinsic link between environmental protection and planning, and the benefits of community engagement and participation in decisions that affect our environments and neighbourhoods.

The report which draws on case studies from across Australia and overseas, looks at:
• ways to integrate environmental outcomes through effective strategic and land use planning;
• mechanisms for achieving environmental outcomes in development assessment processes, including an objective decision making framework with requires decision makers to ensure that environmental outcomes are achieved;
• emerging trends in public participation and community engagement;
• ways to improve community engagement and ensure community engagement is carried out in accordance with key principles set out in a public participation charter.

The report also outlines a proposed legislative model for integrating environmental and community considerations in the NSW planning system. Our organisations will be strongly advocating for the legislative provisions set out in this model to be included in the White Paper and draft legislation for a new planning system.

This report was funded by the Department of Planning and Infrastructure, as part of a funding agreement that had the in-principle support of the Planning Review Co-Chairs.

2012 - Download PDF

Reconnecting the Community with the Planning System - Report

The aim of this report is to provide the Department of Planning (DoP) with an informed assessment of how people view the current planning system and recommend ways that the DoP can reconnect the community with the planning system. The Total Environment Centre (TEC), funded by the DoP, engaged the NSW Environmental Defender's Office (EDO) to assist in the workshop and report writing components of the project.

The main conclusion of this project is that the community generally feels disconnected with the planning process, deeply cynical about whether it is worthwhile to engage, and extremely frustrated about the current system. During the process of conducting workshops in key parts of the state and seeking feedback on the planning system, community members gave a few specific examples of good consultation processes, many examples of inadequate processes where they felt excluded, and made suggestions for reform.

2010 - Download PDF

State of Planning in NSW

The “State of Planning in NSW” Report analyses the current planning system based on the experiences of our community clients.

The Report identifies the pros and cons of the current system and identifies that a significant number of amendments would be needed to fix the current Act in terms of improving environmental assessment and community participation.

The Report identifies 10 key elements for a new planning Act, needed to restore balance, transparency and accountability to the planning system.

This report was commissioned by the Total Environment Centre and the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.

14 Dec 2010 - Download PDF