New South Wales

New plan to protect biodiversity in Western Sydney's growth areas

THE New South Wales Government has proposed a new plan to protect nationally significant environmental lands whilst ensuring growth can occur in Sydney's North West and South West Growth Centres.
Planning Minister Tony Kelly said the Growth Centres contain areas of high environmental value that need to be secured. It is projected that the Growth Centres will accommodate approximately 500,000 people over the next 30 years.

Mr Kelly said landholders and developers need a consistent process to provide certainty and that whilst the NSW Government simplified its environmental assessment process in 2007, assessments are still required under Commonwealth law.

"The NSW Government simplified its environmental assessment process in 2007 by introducing biodiversity certification -- a tool that identified and protected areas of significant environmental value before any development commenced – to remove the need for costly, site by site assessment of each development. However, site by site assessments are still required under Commonwealth law as there may be nationally significant matters in need of protection," Mr Kelly said.

As a result, Mr Kelly said the Australian and NSW Governments had agreed to undertake a Strategic Assessment of Growth Centres development to remove the need for multiple assessments.

As part of the Strategic Assessment process, Mr Kelly placed on exhibition:

  • the draft Sydney Growth Centres Program Report, which outlines the NSW Government's approach to housing, employment and conservation in the Growth Centres (and related infrastructure); and
  • the draft Strategic Assessment Report, which analyses the potential impacts and outcomes of the Sydney Growth Centres Program as they relate to the requirements of the Commonwealth's Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

"It will ensure matters of national environmental significance are managed through a single process that evaluates areas suitable for future development and secures those areas needing protection for their environmental value. This is a modern, sensible approach to planning. It is a forward thinking, logical way of aligning the development needs of growing cities with environmental protection," Mr Kelly said.

The Growth Centres in Western Sydney aim to focus most of Sydney's greenfield expansion within two areas totalling 270 square kilometres. Mr Kelly said the proposed plan will allow both the NSW and Commonwealth governments to determine long-term development, conservation and heritage priorities in the Growth Centres.

The exhibition period closes on Friday 25 June 2010. More information is available from the NSW Department of Planning website at <http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/>.

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