Last Updated: December 1, 2016

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Planning: have your say on Development Assessment Rules, by 19 December

30 November 2016

The Development Assessment (DA) rules (available here) are open for comment until 19 December, and we encourage you to have your say!

These rules are an important instrument in the Queensland planning framework as they provide for:

  • how public notification must be undertaken for impact-assessable development
  • the ability to change and the process for changing a development application
  • when applications must be re-notified

How to make a submission

You can have your say on the DA rules, by making a submission in one of the following ways:

Development Assessment Rules feedback
Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning
PO Box 15009
CITY EAST QLD 4002

Any person may make a written submission about any aspect of the draft rules. The submission must be a properly made submission under the Act to be accepted.

Make sure your submission has the following elements, so that it is accepted:

  • lodged by 5pm, 19 December
  • addressed using one of the details above, to Deputy Premier Trad
  • if via mail, remember to sign it. This isn’t necessary if it’s sent by email.
  • provide your name and a postal address
  • provide your key point and information to support your key points.

Our analysis of the DA rules

There have been some positive amendments made to the rules in this version, compared to the previous draft iteration.

Suggested key points of note include:

  • Support fixed assessment process – so public notification must occur after all information received (Rules s16)

Previously, the Department proposed to introduce a ‘floating assessment process’ where public notification could have occurred prior to all information being provided by the applicant. This draft now brings back the fixed process where the public notification stage can only occur once the information request period has been completed. This provides much more certainty for the community that they will have all information available upon being notified of the application.

  • Support consistent mandatory public notification methods (Rules s17.1)

Previously, the Department proposed to introduce the ability for the assessment manager to choose the notification method for each development, rather than providing mandatory means of undertaking notification as we have now. This draft now brings back mandatory methods of public notification for all impact-assessable applications. This is positive as it provides more certainty to all as to how the community can expect to be notified of development.

We recommend that notification on a local government website and email list should also be a mandatory form of notification in today’s world.

  • Support ability to accept submissions even if not ‘properly made’ (Rules s19.1(b))

The Rules provide that the assessment manager may accept a submission even where that submission does not comply with the requirements of a ‘properly made submission’. This is a positive discretion for the community in that it ensures that the Rules are not overly strict in preventing the allowance of minor or accidental omissions in submissions. This is supported.

  • Remove ability to ‘opt-out’ of providing information – creates distrust and non-collaborative culture (Rules s11.1).

Applicants can now ‘opt out’ of providing information requested by an assessment manager to help them better understand their application. This is an unhelpful feature introduced by the Rules. The planning framework should support a collaborative, open and trusting relationship between assessment managers and applicant. Giving the applicant the ability to say up front that they refuse to provide more information that might be requested of them by the assessment manager does not support this. This applicant power may also prevent the community from accessing information that would otherwise be required to be produced to help them better understand the application. This should be removed.

  • Remove discretion around re-notification – favour consultation (Rules s26.2(a))

The Rules provide the assessment manager with the ability to consider whether a change to an application would have resulted in further submissions. This is an unacceptable discretion as the assessment manager can never be in a position to know without doubt what is of import to the community. This discretion should be replaced with a requirement to re-notify and change that is not minor, regardless of its cause. Consultation leads to better decision making.

Related topics

Planning instruments open for comment until 10 February. Free seminars! (20/11/2016)

Draft SEQ Regional Plan released. Have your say by 3 March 2017 (25/10/2106)

Video presentations from Qld Planning Laws – Reforms in Review & What’s To Come (31/08/2016)

Planning Bills passed, don’t strengthen environment protection for koalas and other critters (12/05/2016)

Qld planning reforms: have your say on supporting instruments by 5 February (02/06/2016)

Qld planning reforms: have your say on proposed legislation by 18 January (13/01/2016)

Qld planning reforms: supporting instruments – seminars (05/01/2016)

Planning reforms poised to enter third stage (09/11/2015)

Qld planning reforms: have your say on draft framework by 23 October (21/10/2016)

Special extra LawJam on proposed planning framework (19/10/2016)

Planning: speaker presentations from community seminar (30/09/2016)

New planning framework: much more work to be done, for community rights and for the environment(20/09/2016)

Have your say on planning reform, using our submission template (24/07/2016)

Here’s why community participation in planning is vital to protecting your environment (07/07/2016)

Have your say on the future of planning in Queensland! (25/06/2016)

Queensland, planning for changes to planning (19/06/2016)

Planning instruments open for comment until 10 February. Free seminars!

29 November 2016

Updated versions of the Planning Regulation, State Planning Policy and State Development Assessment Provisions have been released and are open for public comment until 10 February.

To make sure you have everything you need to make an informed and meaningful submission, the Environmental Defenders Office Qld is partnering with the Queensland Government.to put on four free community seminars in South East Queensland

BRISBANE, 24 JANUARY

SUNSHINE COAST, 25 JANUARY

GOLD COAST, 30 JANUARY (registrations open soon!)

TOOWOOMBA, 1 FEBRUARY (registrations open soon!)

These seminars are an opportunity to access:

  • first-hand information and explanations from a Department of Planning representative
  • the analysis of a leading independent community legal centre

on these important instruments and what they mean for the environment and community. Each seminar will include a dedicated slot for audience questions.

Related topics

Planning: have your say on Development Assessment Rules, by 19 December (20/11/2016)

Draft SEQ Regional Plan released. Have your say by 3 March 2017 (25/10/2106)

Video presentations from Qld Planning Laws – Reforms in Review & What’s To Come (31/08/2016)

Planning Bills passed, don’t strengthen environment protection for koalas and other critters (12/05/2016)

Qld planning reforms: have your say on supporting instruments by 5 February (02/06/2016)

Qld planning reforms: have your say on proposed legislation by 18 January (13/01/2016)

Qld planning reforms: supporting instruments – seminars (05/01/2016)

Planning reforms poised to enter third stage (09/11/2015)

Qld planning reforms: have your say on draft framework by 23 October (21/10/2016)

Special extra LawJam on proposed planning framework (19/10/2016)

Planning: speaker presentations from community seminar (30/09/2016)

New planning framework: much more work to be done, for community rights and for the environment(20/09/2016)

Have your say on planning reform, using our submission template (24/07/2016)

Here’s why community participation in planning is vital to protecting your environment (07/07/2016)

Have your say on the future of planning in Queensland! (25/06/2016)

Queensland, planning for changes to planning (19/06/2016)

MEDIA RELEASE: Judgment handed down on Adani Supreme Court challenge

25 November 2016

EDO Qld lawyers, on behalf of Land Services of Coast and Country, had filed an application for judicial review in the Queensland Supreme Court of the decision to grant Adani Mining Pty Ltd an Environmental Authority under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld) (the EP Act).

This morning we received the judgment in this matter – Land Services of Coast and Country Inc v Chief Executive, Department of Environment and Heritage Protection & Anor (SC No 4189/16).

“Today’s judgment failed to support the case that we had presented to the court to set aside the environmental authority for Carmichael mine,” said EDO Queensland’s CEO and Solicitor Jo-Anne Bragg.

“While we respect the Court’s decision this was a carefully considered legal case and we are disappointed by the judgment.

Our client’s case was that the decision by the Queensland Environment Department to issue an Environmental Authority to Adani for the Carmichael mine was not in compliance with the law.

“Today’s judgment is a loss for the people and a loss for our precious environment. It says the decision is not unlawful, but is not an endorsement of the merits of the mine.

Our client’s case was that the Department failed to comply with s 5 of the EP Act. Section 5 of the EP Act places a mandatory duty on decision makers to best achieve the ecologically sustainable development purpose of the Act. 

“That duty is a vital protection because it aims to ensure that Queensland’s environment is protected while allowing for development that improves total quality of life, both now and in the future, in a way that maintains the ecological processes on which life depends,” said Bragg.

EDO Qld supports Chain of Responsibility Guidelines

23 November 2016

The Chain of Responsibility Guidelines have been released for public comment until 5pm Friday 25 November 2016; click here to have your say!

These guidelines relate to the Environmental Protection (Chain of Responsibility) Amendment Act 2016 (Qld). This Act gives the government new tools to hold companies and related parties like former directors to account for environmental harm. So if the company goes into financial difficulty those tools can be used to avoid government and taxpayers picking up the tab for clean-up of contaminated sites, or for rehabilitation.

We encourage you to write to Minister Miles and the DEHP to express your support for the draft statutory guidelines and for their work in helping to protect Queensland taxpayers from financial and environmental risk with the Environmental Protection (Chain of Responsibility) Amendment Act 2016.

Send your comments on the draft guideline to DEHP at:

Strategic Compliance
Department of Environment and Heritage Protection
SCConsultation@ehp.qld.gov.au

Click here for more information and to view other forms of making comments.
 
Send your congratulations and support to Minister Miles at:

Minister Steven Miles
Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef
environment@ministerial.qld.gov.au

Water reforms passed – exemption from public scrutiny for Adani and retrospective dewatering approval

10 November 2016

The Queensland Parliament last night passed both the:

  • Environmental Protection (Underground Water Management) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 (EPOLA Bill); and
  • Water Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 (WLA Bill).

The Bills introduce some improvements to the transparency and rigour of water regulation in Queensland and return access to justice for many concerned about groundwater impacts from mines.

However, two last minute amendments are highly concerning as to their impact on proper management of our water resources in Queensland from mining impacts, and suggest regulatory capture:

X   Exemption for Adani from public and Court scrutiny of groundwater impacts of Carmichael coal mine

  • Adani will be required to obtain an associated water licence to dewater their pit for Carmichael coal mine, but a carve-out has been created which would most likely mean Adani’s associated water licence will not be required to be subject to normal public notification, submissions or third party merits appeals applicable to any other water licence.
  • Instead, the Director-General of DNRM will be required to consult with the Director-General of DEHP on whether to approve the associated water licence. The Director-General of DEHP will be directed by Minister Miles to consult with an expert panel in making this decision.

X   Retrospective approval of dewatering activities for many mines in Qld!

  • Retrospective approval was legislated of associated water take and interference which has occurred since 2003. This demonstrates major oversight by DNRM in the regulation of mining water use, and more favours to mining.
  • Minister Lynham states in his second reading speech that ‘an administrative approach was adopted to not issue licences for certain dewatering activities that were considered to have little or no impact on other water users or springs’. This ‘was not lawful’ and consequently ‘a number of existing mining operations have been taking or interfering with associated water for many years without the appropriate water authorisations’.

EDO Qld is seeking an explanation from the government as to how this administrative oversight arose and how the government intends on ensuring the sustainable management of our groundwater in light of this unregulated take or interference by the mining industry. 

Apart from these highly concerning last minute amendments, some improvements in management of water in Queensland were also passed: 

✓   Return of access to justice and proper impact assessment for many affected by proposed mines in Qld, including for New Acland expansion and Alpha coal mine – to make up for introduction of statutory right to associated water and removal of water licence requirement

  • Future mining, petroleum and gas companies will be subject to strengthened assessment of groundwater impacts under their environmental authority assessment;
  • All mining proposals that are currently being assessed which would normally require a water licence for dewatering their pit/s under the law today will still require an associated water licence involving further assessment of groundwater impacts; and
  • Acland mine, Alpha and Kevin’s Corner will be subject to public notification and appeal rights for any associated water licence they require. Carmichael coal mine is the only mine which we are aware will likely be exempt from the public notification and appeal rights which normally apply to a water licence assessment.

 ✓   Return to more responsible management of water use in Qld considering principles of ecologically sustainable development (ESD)

  • The principles of ESD will be a required consideration for assessment of water allocation and licensing applications (however not for associated water licences).
  • The water development option was repealed – this would have enabled large-scale water users to receive a guarantee from government of their access to large amounts of water prior to the completion of an assessment of the impacts of that water take;
  • The ability to deregulate the take or interference of water from certain declared watercourses was also repealed.

EDO Qld have worked tirelessly to assist these two Bills in being passed and to try to prevent them from being significantly weakened.

Thank you to all of those supporters who assisted in these efforts by putting the pressure on our parliamentary representatives to protect community rights and the environment in the water reforms. An impressive effort was put in with very little notice which we have no doubt helped get these Bills over the line.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us on adminqld@edoqld.org.au.

See also public statement from EDO Qld CEO Jo Bragg, “Qld Labor exempts Adani mine from public submission and appeals on groundwater.”

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