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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 9 Hansard (24 August) . .

Page.. 3315..

Planning and Development Amendment Bill 2017

Mr Gentleman, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Minister for Planning and Land Management and Minister for Urban Renewal) (10.42): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am pleased to table the Planning and Development Amendment Bill 2017. As is well known, the Planning and Development Act is the principal piece of planning legislation in the ACT. The act sets out, among other things, how land can be used, how environmental matters are managed and how development proposals are assessed.

The bill makes amendments to the Planning and Development Act to provide a planning assessment framework for the storage of dangerous substances as recommended by the review of the 2011 Mitchell chemical fire. The bill also makes amendments to permit a proponent of a development on contaminated land to apply for an environmental significance opinion from the planning and land authority. If the authority provides an environmental significance opinion to the effect that the proposal will not have an adverse environmental impact, the proposal is removed from the impact track. The third major amendment made by the bill is to require that all draft variations to the Territory Plan be referred to the relevant Assembly committee, and for the committee to decide within 15 working days whether it will inquire into the variation.

First of all, I would like to talk about the changes regarding the storage of dangerous substances. I am sure that everyone recalls the Mitchell chemical fire that occurred back in 2011. The government undertook an investigation after that fire, and one set of amendments made by this bill is based on the recommendations of the report on the fire.

At the moment, the storage of dangerous substances may commence on a site without the need for a planning assessment. For example, a warehouse may transition from storing soft drink to storing hazardous materials or goods without consideration of the site's suitability in relation to its surroundings or notification to the planning and land authority. This is because current planning approval only applies to physical on-site works or changes to a lease, such as the actual construction of a warehouse or the addition of a new use to a lease.

There are over 800 leases in industrial zones of the ACT that permit warehousing and storage. There are also leases in other zones, such as commercial zones, that allow these uses. There is potential for the storage of dangerous substances to commence at any of these sites without requiring planning approval. Some of the industrial sites are within 100 metres of residential areas and community uses, such as childcare centres.

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