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Law Reform · Healthy Communities

New SEQ Regional Plan 2017 released

11 August, 2017

The new South East Queensland (SEQ) Regional Plan 2017 ‘ShapingSEQ’ was released and put into effect on Friday 11 August 2017. Find out what it means for you.

The new South East Queensland (SEQ) Regional Plan 2017 ‘ShapingSEQ’ is available here on the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning’s website.

This regional plan provides the long-term direction for development in the SEQ region for the next 25 years. It replaces the SEQ Regional Plan 2009-2013.

This plan intends to provide for an increase in SEQ’s population by 2 million people in the next 25 years. This is provided for through a desired future settlement pattern which includes designation of land into either urban footprint, rural living area or regional landscape and rural production area. Each of these land use categories provides various forms of restriction around development.

The regional land use areas are shown on the SEQ regulatory maps, and on the department’s interactive mapping system.

Brief overview of ShapingSEQ with respect to protecting SEQ environmental values:

  • The new regional plan has provided for new elements and strategies around koala conservation and water sensitive cities (see p.82) not provided for in the draft SEQ regional plan which was out for comment earlier this year.
  • The new plan provides for more ‘measures that matter’ relevant to environmental values compared to the draft plan, including additional measures around koala habitat, regional biodiversity network, agricultural land and clarified reference to community greenspace.
  • The ‘preferred future’ goals for the measures that matter remain vague, with no quantified goals to strive towards. The ‘preferred future’ for koala habitat is that there is no net loss of habitat; this is weaker than the requirement in the State Planning Policy which requires both the conservation and enhancement of koala habitat extent and condition.
  • The inter-urban break for Moreton Bay-Sunshine Coast region has reportedly been increased between the draft regional plan and the final version.
  • Outcomes of the Koala Expert Panel are due to come out later this quarter, and are intended to be reflected in amendments to the regional plan once provided.

The laws that put the regional plan into effect - Regulatory provisions and empowering instruments

This plan is supported by regulatory provisions that provide more legal strength behind the regional plan, now found in the Planning Regulation 2017. The Department has provided a guideline to assist understanding of the regulatory provisions here: ShapingSEQ: SEQ regulatory provision guideline.

The regional plan is also put into effect through local government planning schemes, which must reflect the regional plan, and other planning instruments, such as the State Infrastructure Plan which is currently being reviewed.

Departmental factsheets:

Keep an eye out for further background papers which provide the policy justification for the new regional plan, which the Department advises will be available online in September 2017.

ShapingSEQ to pave way for Strategic Assessment for SEQ under the EPBC Act

The Queensland Government is currently in discussions with the federal Department of Environment and Energy to prepare a strategic assessment for the SEQ region under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act). We understand the new SEQ Regional Plan will form a basis of the strategic assessment.

If undertaken well, a strategic assessment can allow better consideration of cumulative impacts on matters of national environmental significance across the region considered. However, if undertaken poorly, this can remove a check and balance provided through referral and assessment under the EPBC Act criteria of each project.

By undertaking a strategic assessment, a region-wide landscape scale assessment will be undertaken which considers future likely development of the SEQ region. Depending on the scope of the strategic assessment, potential impacts of future development to matters of national environmental significance in the SEQ region will be assessed as part of the strategic assessment. The strategic assessment may provide a report with conditions specified future development must comply with to be considered to fulfil the EPBC Act requirements, in lieu of each project requiring referral and assessment under the EPBC Act. If a development type is not considered as part of the strategic assessment, the development will have to be referred under the EPBC Act for assessment as far as it may have a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance.

EDO Qld will be keeping you up to date with all opportunities to have your opinions, knowledge and concerns heard with respect to the strategic assessment as these opportunities arise.

Environmental Defenders Office Queensland (EDO Qld) gives a strong legal voice to the environment when needed most.

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