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Consultation Now Open For New Rural Planning Policy

The NSW Government is currently reviewing State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs) relating to agricultural production in NSW. As part of the review, the Government will create a new SEPP for Primary Production and Rural Development. A public consultation period is currently underway (and will close on 15 January 2017), during which time the public can write submissions to raise concerns and ultimately influence the development of the new SEPP.

New planning legislation changes will change the regulation of agricultural production in NSW.

What Is A SEPP?

SEPPs are designed to deal with matters of State or regional environmental planning significance. A SEPP is a legal instrument which forms part of the broader environmental regulation framework of NSW. SEPPs can have a range of functions, including:

  • Identification of the level of development assessment that a proposed development requires;

  • Identification of the type of environmental assessment that a proposed development requires; and

  • Definition of different types of permissible and prohibited developments.

The practical effect of a SEPP is often to take power away from councils in order to allow/prohibit certain types of development. SEPPs may make the Planning Minister the decision-maker (consent authority) for the types of development they relate to. As the name implies, SEPPs apply across the State.

What Are The Proposed Changes?

Proposed changes under the reforms include consolidation of the following five existing SEPPs to form a new SEPP:

  • State Environmental Planning Policy (Rural Lands) 2008

  • State Environmental Planning Policy 30 - Intensive Agriculture

  • State Environmental Planning Policy 52 - Farm Dams and Other Works in Land and Water Management Plan Areas

  • State Environmental Planning Policy 62 - Sustainable Aquaculture

  • Sydney Regional Environmental Plan 8 - Central Coast Plateau Areas

The Explanation of Intended Effect of the new SEPP (which provides a comprehensive overview of the proposed reforms) is available for review here.

As part of the proposed regulatory package, draft guidelines have also been prepared to support the proposed planning reforms. These are intended to assist applicants and planning authorities to understand the assessment requirements for new intensive livestock developments, such as feedlots, poultry farms and pig farms.

The draft Planning Guidelines - Intensive Livestock Agriculture Development may be viewed here.

Overall, the main aim of the reform is to consolidate, streamline and simplify existing rural regulations by replacing a large number of small, targeted instruments with a single, comprehensive regulatory instrument. During this process, a number of alterations are being made to existing regulations. The nature of these alterations will be subject to government policies in association with public input during the consultation period.

The Environmental team at SMK Consultants is experienced in policy review and government liaison. If you are interested in having your say in the future of agricultural development in NSW, contact SMK Consultants today on (02) 6752 1021, and we will assist you in assessing the proposed changes, identifying key issues to address, and in drafting a submission to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.

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