Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 19 September 2017) . . Page.. 3856 ..
communication with people in the community by those in the know, those who work in this area, who may be better placed to understand if there may be unintended consequences of these changes.
Despite these minor comments, we support the bill in the hope that it provides certainty around the storage of dangerous substances, that it reduces red tape and that it allows for better consultation. I thank the minister and his directorate for bringing these changes forward. I would also like to thank the minister and his office, and the directorate, for their timely and informative briefing and for answering our questions on the matter. I look forward to supporting this bill and the amendments that are being circulated.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (10.58): Madam Speaker, the Greens will be supporting the Planning and Development Amendment Bill, the amendments presented by Mr Gentleman, and some of the other amendments which we will discuss in due course. We believe they make important improvements to three aspects of our planning processes.
The first aspect is the inclusion of a planning assessment framework for the storage of hazardous materials on a property. Planning assessments for new development applications do consider the presence of dangerous substances on that site. However, there is currently a gap with regard to warehouses that have already been through the planning approval process but then change the make-up of what is being stored on site to include hazardous materials. In these cases, the presence of hazardous materials on the site was never considered as part of the original planning approval. This bill introduces a section to trigger a new assessment under these circumstances so that planning authorities can introduce new protections where necessary to ensure that those substances are being stored safely.
Under the new legislation, the planning and land authority must be notified, and a development approval is required in relation to the storage of dangerous substances on site. The DA is assessable in the impact track and is subject to an EIS, unless the planning and land authority produces an environmental significance opinion, an ESO, to say this is not required. The new provision only applies to sites that are registrable premises because of the quantity of dangerous substances proposed to be stored there.
The requirement for a DA in these circumstances is in addition to the existing regulations under the Dangerous Substances Act. This is important because the DA process takes into account the suitability of the site and its proximity to residential areas and community facilities such as childcare centres. In these circumstances it is appropriate to review the storage of dangerous substances from a planning perspective to ensure that the necessary safeguards are in place to avoid any risk of injury or loss of life. This new provision is a result of recommendations from the review of the 2011 Mitchell chemical fire, and I am pleased to see the government taking these recommendations on board. It is important that we put in place the necessary precautions so that this kind of event can be avoided in the future and we learn the lessons from that incident, one that caught many people by surprise but did provide us with some salient points to focus on as a result of that experience.