Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 19 September 2017) . . Page.. 3858 ..
Planning and development have a great impact on the sustainability and livability of our city. Each of the changes proposed in this bill is about making sure that our planning system anticipates and responds appropriately to some of the many complex situations that can arise as our city grows and evolves. Whether it is improving regulation and safety requirements for storing dangerous substances, improving the efficiency of assessing development applications or increasing the transparency and consultation around Territory Plan variations, each aspect of this bill aims to make our planning system more coherent and accessible for ACT residents. I thank Minister Gentleman and his staff for their work in developing these changes, and the Greens will be supporting the bill as amended.
MS ORR (Yerrabi) (11.04): I rise in support of the Planning and Development Amendment Bill 2017. I will be talking about the amendments made by the bill in relation to the assessment of development proposals involving land on the contaminated sites register. These amendments are a red tape reduction measure. Presently all development applications on land on the contaminated sites register must be assessed in the impact track and an environmental impact statement prepared.
In a nutshell, the bill removes this automatic requirement for developers to get an environmental impact statement when they can demonstrate that the work they want to do on the site will not disturb the soil or impact on the environment in a significant way. Instead, the proposal will be able to be assessed using the lower regulatory burden of an environmental significance opinion. The planning and land authority will be the entity that provides the environmental significance opinion.
I would first of all like to talk briefly about the contaminated sites register. Section 21A of the Environment Protection Act 1997 establishes the register of contaminated sites. Sites are included on the register if the Environment Protection Authority requests a review of an assessment of contaminated land by an approved contaminated land auditor or if it has received notification of the need for an audit from an approved auditor. A site can only be removed from the register once it has been assessed, remediated if necessary, and independently audited as suitable for the proposed land use and no ongoing management is required.
I am informed that there are presently 161 sites on the register, which can be accessed on the ACT government website. There is also a contaminated sites environment protection policy, which is administered by the EPA and contains information relating to the assessment and remediation, including management of contaminated land, and aims to minimise the risk of adverse impacts of contaminated land on the environment and human health. As you can see, Mr Assistant Speaker, the government takes very seriously the issue of contaminated land and has processes in place to ensure the protection of the environment and human health.
I now turn to the amendments made by the bill. Item 7 of schedule 4 of the Planning and Development Act requires any development proposal on land on the contaminated sites register, regardless of the proposal’s potential impact or whether it engages the contaminated land, to be assessed in the impact track and an environmental impact statement prepared unless an environmental impact statement exemption applies.