Page 3861 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 19 September 2017

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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.

The third set of amendments made by the bill requires all draft variations to the territory plan to be referred to the relevant Legislative Assembly committee and for the committee to decide whether it will inquire into the variation. This measure removes the current discretion of the minister to refer or not to refer a draft variation to the committee. At this point I confirm that there will be minor amendments to the bill, as we have heard, in relation to these amendments to the Territory Plan variation process. I will refer to these in more detail shortly.

First of all, I would like to talk about the new planning assessment framework for the storing of dangerous substances and then the amendments requiring a draft Territory Plan variation to be referred to the relevant Assembly committee. The bill closes a loophole whereby a warehouse can be used to store dangerous substances without proper planning consideration on the site’s suitability. The measure requires development approval for the storage of dangerous substances above a specified level. A development application will then be considered with regard to the Territory Plan and criteria in the planning legislation, including issues relating to the nature of the surrounding area, particularly its proximity to residents, childcare centres and schools. Businesses storing small amounts of chemicals, such as pool cleaners, will not be caught by this bill.

In addition, I would like to emphasise that this set of amendments will be commenced by notice to allow for a period of six months of consultation with industry and the community by the planning and land authority about the new provisions. At the moment the storage of dangerous substances may commence on a site without the need for a planning assessment if the storage is consistent with the terms of the relevant lease. For example, a warehouse may transition from storing soft drinks to storing dangerous substances 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 and 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. For these reasons it is the government’s view that the storage of dangerous substances in the territory needs to be more proactively and appropriately regulated from a planning perspective to help minimise the risk of another Mitchell fire scenario occurring.

The primary policy outcome the government had in mind was to ensure that the planning process was activated only when the number of dangerous substances was sufficient to require planning approval. We did not want to regulate, for instance, pool

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