Hill Top Residents Action Group v Minister for Planning and NSW Sport and Recreation

November 2009

The Land and Environment Court upheld Hill Top Residents Action Group Inc's appeal of the Minister for Planning's approval of a Regional Shooting Complex at Hill Top, in the Southern Highlands, declaring the Minister's approval void.

HTRAG successfully challenged the approval on the basis that the shooting range was prohibited under Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and the State Environmental Planning Policy (Major Projects) 2005. The Court found that the 'range danger area', essentially a designated buffer zone to capture stray bullets, was not permissible in the part of the site zoned as an environmental conservation area under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Major Projects) 2005. The Court further found that the range danger area was an essential part of the project, and as a result found the entire approval void, and made an order restraining the Department of Sport from doing anything further on the site pursuant to the project approval.

In addition, the Court accepted HTRAG's submission that the Independent Hearing and Assessment Panel was not properly constituted on the basis that former politician, Ian Armstrong, was not an 'expert'. However, Biscoe J found that this did not lead to invalidity because consideration of the expert report was not mandatory.

EDO NSW wishes to thank Tim Robertson and Jason Lazarus who acted as counsel in these proceedings.

 Media - Sydney Morning Herald

Case Summary Judgment