New South Wales

Department seeks community input on improving environmental impact assessments

THE NSW Department of Planning and Environment last week called for community input to help improve the way state significant projects are assessed, with workshops to be held to gather feedback on draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) guidelines that are currently on public exhibition.

The Department's Executive Director, David Kitto, said the new guidelines are an important initiative to drive better practice in NSW. Mr Kitto said the draft guidelines follow last year's exhibition of a discussion paper on improving the assessment process, which he said received strong support from industry and the community.

CBD and South East Light Rail project under construction in Sydney
Above: CBD and South East Light Rail project under construction in Sydney / Transport for NSW.

"While state significant projects such as large infrastructure, industry, mining and urban renewal developments are essential for NSW, they require a comprehensive triple-bottom line assessment with extensive community input," Mr Kitto said.

"After extensive consultation we developed draft guidelines and we're undertaking workshops to hear what the community has to say about them. This is an important opportunity for the community to make sure we get the new guidelines right."

Mr Kitto said key improvements include getting the community involved much earlier in the assessment process, focussing on the most important issues and improving the quality of all assessment documents.

"While assessment documents, such as environmental impact statements, need to be technically rigorous they also need to be easy to understand and clearly address issues raised by the community. This means everyone should be able to understand them, not just technical experts," he said.

On exhibition are:

  • Guides for proponents covering all stages of the assessment process;
  • A guide to help the community understand and participate in the assessment process; and
  • A guide on the Department's approach to setting conditions for projects.

More information is available from the Department of Planning and Environment website at <http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/EIAreview>. The draft guidelines are on exhibition until 1 September 2017.

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