Have Your Say about decisions impacting the environment
Public participation in decisions impacting the environment is crucial to achieving the best outcome for local communities and the environment.
Knowing what’s happening in your local area is the first step towards protecting the environment, as it allows you to let decision-makers know what you are concerned about. You can comment on things like draft policies on how threatened species are protected, applications for new developments such as new housing estates, office buildings, mines or roads, and draft plans setting out how protected areas such as national parks are managed. This is now as easy as a few clicks with the EDO NSW’s new website Have Your Say.
This is the first time that all the information you need to effectively engage with decision-makers to achieve better outcomes for your local community and the environment has been brought together in one place.
Have Your Say includes interactive maps of opportunities for the community to comment on proposals including applications for major developments, draft policies released by the NSW and Australian governments, coal and coal seam gas exploration licence applications, and local environmental plans.
You can search for opportunities to have your say by postcode to see proposals impacting your local community. You can also search for proposals by specific topics such as native plants and animals, mining and coal seam gas, pollution, water, Aboriginal communities, and climate change and energy.
Simple and concise fact sheets about how the law can be used to protect the environment, how the NSW planning system works, and how you can participate in decisions impacting the environment are also available on our website.
Projects and policies currently on the site and open for public comment include:
- Sydney CBD and South East Light Rail
- Draft Code of Practice for Land Access for Coal Seam Gas and Petroleum Exploration
- Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Reforms
- Barangaroo remediation and land forming works
- Draft guidelines on when projects which may impact koala habitat need to be referred to the Australian Government
- The conversion of the Clyde Shell refinery to a fuel import terminal
- The Dewhurst Gas Exploration Pilot Expansion near Narrabri
- The West Byron Bay Urban release area
- The Sandon Point Residential Development
Local communities can use Have Your Say to request a workshop on specific issues by EDO NSW’s expert legal staff.
Have Your Say is one of the many ways that EDO NSW, a non-government and not-for-profit community legal centre, helps local communities with environmental issues by providing legal and scientific advice, community legal education and proposals for better laws.
EDO NSW provides free initial legal advice about new developments and compliance with environmental laws. Last year EDO NSW provided 1,288 people in NSW with free initial legal advice by telephone with the most common issues including environmental planning, neighbourhood tree disputes, natural resource management, zoning, public and private land management, pollution, and Aboriginal cultural heritage.
We also provided 193 clients with detailed written legal advice, and for a further 19 community groups went to court to protect the environment in the public interest.
EDO NSW has helped a number of community groups to successfully protect the environment through the law in our 29 year history, including assisting the Blue Mountains Conservation Society to protect the Coxs River from pollution from a nearby coal-fired power station through mediation.
EDO NSW also represented the Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association in its successful challenge of the approval of a coal mine expansion near the village of Bulga in the Hunter Valley. In this case, the Land and Environment Court found that the substantial economic benefits of the mine were outweighed by the significant and unacceptable impacts on the environment and the community, including noise, dust and social impacts on residents as well as the mining of areas containing endangered plant and animals. However, this decision has been appealed by the mine to the NSW Court of Appeal.
EDO NSW actively engages in policy and law reform in NSW and nationally. A key law reform focus in 2012/13 was the reform of the NSW planning system. EDO NSW was invited to meet with the Department of Planning and Infrastructure to provide direct feedback on the plans for a new planning system for NSW, and we prepared a detailed submission with over 100 recommendations on issues that needed to be included in a new best practice planning Act for NSW.
Have Your Say is the latest instalment in EDO NSW’s popular set of community guides on planning and environment matters which include Mining Law in NSW: A guide for the community and our weekly email bulletin that aims to keep you up to date with all the latest important environmental law news from around NSW.
Have Your Say has been supported by the NSW Government through its Environmental Trust.
*Emily Ryan is an Outreach Solicitor at EDO NSW.