Page 1489 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 7 May 2008
broadacre and under the territory plan, as such, such permits a major utility installation and community facility, subject to the provisions of the territory plan and, in this case, a mandatory preliminary assessment.
As this application, as Dr Foskey has indicated, was received prior to the commencement of the Planning and Development Act on 31 March, the assessment is being undertaken under the old planning system. The preliminary assessment for the proposal is currently being evaluated by the Planning and Land Authority according to the requirements of the legislation. It is important to note that ACTPLA must take into consideration the comments of other ACT government entities, including Environment ACT and ACT Health and, most importantly, submissions from the ACT community.
We have heard this morning from Dr Foskey and from Mr Smyth, and I welcome Mr Smyth’s comments giving in-principle support for the project, noting, of course, the opposition to the particular site that ActewAGL put forward. I think it is worth noting that throughout this debate ActewAGL and Technical Real Estate, which is part of the consortium that put forward this proposal, have indicated a willingness to vary their plans to address community concerns and have also noted their intention to optimise the engineering design of the facility to ensure that all relevant environmental guidelines are met. That, I think, shows a willingness on behalf of the proponent to consider all of the issues that are being raised quite legitimately at the moment by local residents and by representatives in this place and by other interested parties.
There has been some concern about the timeline around the consultation process, and I note your attendance at the public meeting, Mr Deputy Speaker, and your recommendation to me as planning minister that it would be appropriate to extend the consultation period. I agree certainly with your recommendation and have extended public inspection and comment on the preliminary assessment—in effect, therefore, on the development application—until 27 May.
Based on the outcome of this evaluation ACTPLA will provide recommendations to the environment minister, and for the purposes of the land act that responsibility falls to me. In considering any recommendations I must make a decision as to whether a higher level environmental assessment is required. This means that if due process is allowed to be followed, rather than the somewhat confused process that is put forward by Dr Foskey, it is conceivable—in fact, highly likely—that an environmental impact statement would be required.
The result of the preliminary assessment process, including submissions made by the community, will inform the assessment of the development application. Given that the period for public notification on the preliminary assessment has been extended—and there is no doubt about the wide publicity and community interest that this proposal has received—I think any reasonable person would agree that there is now adequate time for people to comment on ActewAGL’s proposal and for there to be a considered community debate. I thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and other members of the Assembly for their contribution to this debate.