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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 14 Hansard (Thursday, 9 December 2010) . . Page.. 6150 ..


paperwork, in the same time frame. Proposed new clause 26B inserts a new item 14A into schedule 1 of the act, allowing an entity who made a representation about the development proposal, or who had a reasonable excuse not to, or an entity with objects and purposes which relate to a matter raised in the decision, to be eligible to apply for a review of the decision in ACAT.

I turn to definitions for “likely” to have a “significant adverse environmental impact”, which will be new sections 124A(1)(b), 124A(3) and 124B. These definitions are the subject of many legal challenges, but given that they are the key to EIS legislation, it is imperative to apply the precautionary principle where possible. Environmental values cannot usually be easily replaced once destroyed, so the Greens believe that development decisions should err on the side of caution and environmental protection.

Section 124A(1)(b) replaces the word “substantial” with “significant” to, together with 124A3, give greater clarity to significant adverse environmental impact. Section 124A3 refines the intensity of 124A(2). Subsection (1) of section 142B states that “likely to” is a “real or not remote chance or possibility”. Subsection (2) clarifies that the impact is relevant whether or not it is on the development site or elsewhere.

With respect to the strategic environmental assessment, as I stated earlier in the debate, the SEA is carried out by the government in the early stages of the planning process. The assessment undertaken through the SEA can be used as a basis for the government’s planning of most suburban developments and for the minister exempting environmental impact assessment in future urban areas, so it is important that the SEA process has the same level of scrutiny and transparency as an EIS process.

Since the commencement of the Planning and Development Act, this SEA process has not been used for any new residential development area proposals. At present the planning and development regulations cover the detail of what is required in the development of an SEA. However, there are no requirements for public notification or input into the SEA process. This amendment makes a strategic environmental assessment scoping document a notifiable instrument; calls for public comment on various stages of the SEA; and includes the environmental impacts—(Extension of time granted.)—and benefits assessment, as well as any monitoring plan, to the strategic environmental assessment.

The Greens believe that, given the number of proposals in this bill to lower the thresholds trigger for an EIS which rely on previous assessments, it would be reasonable if the SEA were an open process which the public can input into.

The EIS scoping process is set out in the planning and development regulations. It is the process whereby the minister consults with a number of agencies and other possible entities to determine what the issues which need to be covered in the EIS should be. Given that the time frame allows 15 days for entities to give feedback about the scoping documents, it is a simple step to open this consultation up to the public in this 15 days.

Here we are in the bush capital in the 21st century and we have almost developed to the borders of any potential residential land. I imagine that the next few decades will


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