Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 31 October 2017) . . Page.. 4746 ..
balances that seek to ensure that no significant adverse environmental impacts result from this change in administrative arrangements.
The growth in the ACT’s population is growing our urban footprint and placing strain on our environment. Climate change is also increasingly requiring us to take adaptive measures in response to its impacts. In this environment it is important that the ACT government is consciously and actively ensuring that our native bushland, rivers and protected biodiversity areas are preserved and that our natural assets remain accessible to the Canberra community. I believe this bill outlines a sensible arrangement to support minor but necessary works in our parks and reserves with a reduced administrative burden.
I thank the minister for his willingness to engage with interested stakeholders on this proposal. It will be important that these groups continue to be engaged as the code is developed. The safeguards I outlined earlier will ensure that the code covers only truly minor works while at the same time retaining the strong oversight and assessment for proposals that could have a significantly adverse environmental impact. The Greens thank the minister for the briefings and discussions we had on this bill. We support this bill and look forward to seeing the final minor works code presented to the Assembly.
MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Minister for Planning and Land Management and Minister for Urban Renewal) (6.21), in reply: I thank members for their important contributions during the debate for the Nature Conservation (Minor Public Works) Amendment Bill 2017. As we have heard, the bill will create efficiencies in the planning approvals process for the territory when undertaking minor public works in reserves. In the ACT we have high quality nature reserves and a high standard of amenity and facilities. As the Australian jurisdiction with the highest proportion of our land area in reserves, it is important that we continue to maintain these valuable recreational and conservation areas.
We want to continue to make our network of reserves accessible and attractive to the public to use while balancing the need to protect the strong environmental values that these natural sites have. To effectively achieve these goals, the approval processes for maintenance works must not impose unnecessary burden and barriers to undertaking these works. At the same time, there must be robust protections that ensure appropriate oversight of activities that may impact on the environmental values of reserves.
The amendments in the bill will support the important work of the parks and conservation service as the custodian and land managers of ACT’s reserves, to maintain facilities within reserves, manage the environmental values and undertake important bushfire preparedness activities.
The bill proposes to amend the Nature Conservation Act 2014 and the Planning and Development Act 2007 to streamline the process for the territory to receive planning approval to undertake minor public works in reserves. The bill achieves this outcome by enabling the Conservator of Flora and Fauna, as you have heard, to make a code of