Impact assessment news round up - January

Published 31 Jan 2017

Read the latest IA news from around the country and the Impact Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA).

International Association for Impact Assessment

2017 IAIA Conference to be held in Montreal

The 2017 IAIA conference will be held in Montreal, Canada from 4 - 7 April 2017. The conference theme is 'Impact Assessment’s Contribution to the Global Efforts in Addressing Climate Change'. Around 1000 delegates are expected to attend. Full details on the conference including registration, preliminary program and sponsorship opportunities are available on the conference website. The 2018 conference will be in Durban, South Africa followed by Brisbane, Australia in 2019!

Go to conference website →

Papers available from 2016 IAIA Conference

The IAIA16 proceedings page provides presentations, final reviewed papers, photos, and more from the 2016 conference in Nagoya, Japan.

Find out more →

New video resources available on IAIA website

Two videos have recently been posted on the IAIA website. IAIA member Maria Partidário discussed resilience and sustainability during her opening plenary keynote address, and IAIA16 co-chair Sachihiko Harashina delivered the inaugural Charlie Wolf Memorial Lecture, which introduced the unique environmental, social, and cultural features of the conference location. IAIA has also published a new 'Fastip' on 'Assessing Significance in Impact Assessment of Projects'. These are all available on the Resources page on the IAIA website. 

Go to the IAIA website →

Western Australia

Provided by Natalie Leach MEIANZ

New EPA website

Western Australia’s EPA has unveiled their new website – a very user friendly and informative site where you can find historic information on project assessments, ministerial statements and EPA reports as well as current and upcoming project referrals. Several tabs are available which navigate to the newly released guidelines and procedures, a step-by-step run through the West Australian EIA process and links to current projects open for public consultation.  A fantastic new edition to the site is the ability to track the status of active formal assessments – useful to both proponents and government officers! Take a look for yourself.

Visit EPA WA website → 

Cumalative Impact Assessment in mining

The issue of Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA) is still a hot topic amongst government and environmental practitioners across Western Australia. An increased mining concentration in catchments (e.g. Pilbara’s Fortescue Marsh) saw the development of the EPAs guidance: Environmental and water assessments relating to mining and mining-related activities in the Fortescue Marsh management area, in mid-2013.  The strategic advice "aims to provide clarity and consistency in relation to environmental assessment and approvals process by identifying the water and environmental values in different zones and their relative priority”. 

Find out more →

Presentation by Dr Rebecca Nelson as part of NCGRT/IAH Distinguished Lecture Series

Dr Rebecca Nelson - Senior Lecturer at the Melbourne Law School - recently presented as part of the NCGRT/IAH Distinguished Lecture Series on the legal aspects of cumulative impacts and groundwater dependent ecosystems.  Dr Nelson holds a Doctor of the Science of Law from Stanford University, where her dissertation focused on empirically assessing regulatory arrangements for managing impacts on surface water and ecosystems from pumping groundwater


Provided by Lynnell Davis MEIANZ

South East Queensland (SEQ) Regional Plan

The Draft SEQ Regional Plan (ShapingSEQ) is the Queensland Government’s new regional planning framework to sustainably manage change and growth in SEQ. This regional plan has a 50-year vision with a 25-year delivery phase. It is currently out for consultation, with community feedback requested by 3 March 2017.  

Find out more →

New Planning Act 2016 to replace Sustainable Planning Act 2009

Commencing in mid-2017, the new Planning Act 2016 will establish a new planning system for the state and replace the Sustainable Planning Act 2009. The Planning Act 2016 provides for development assessment as a fundamental part of planning in Queensland. A new statutory instrument – the Development Assessment Rules – will set out a standardised development assessment process that will ensure applications are progressed in a consistent and transparent way, in accordance with community expectations.

Find out more → 

Updated state planning policy

An updated State Planning Policy (SPP) is open for public consultation until 10 February 2017 to commence alongside the new planning legislation on 3 July 2017. The commencement of the new Planning Act provides a timely opportunity to review the state planning instruments that perform a key role in the planning system including the Planning Regulation, SPP and State Development Assessment Provisions. Each instrument plays a different role in the system:

  • Draft Planning Regulation sets out the triggers and thresholds for when development applications are referred to the state government for assessment
  • Updated State Planning Policy articulates the state's interests in planning and development and provides direction to local government about how the state's interest should be taking into account in local plan making and development assessment
  • Revised State Development Assessment Provisions sets out the matters of interest to the state government for development assessment and provides the criteria used in assessing development applications where the state has a role as assessment manager or referral agency.

New planning provisions for state heritage places

Amendments to the State Development Assessment Provisions and Sustainable Planning Regulation 2009 (SPR) introduced a 'trigger' that would subject any proposed development next to heritage places to additional scrutiny. The new trigger will ensure the cultural significance of state heritage places is not destroyed or substantially reduced by adjoining development. It will subject development applications on properties adjoining heritage places to the same level of scrutiny as the heritage place itself, ensuring a better outcome for the community. Under an amendment to the SPR, certain development applications adjoining a state heritage place will now trigger automatic assessment by the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning. 

Find out more →

Consideration of climate change in planning and development decisions

According to the Queensland Government, world-class coastal planning laws will be reinstated to ensure that our coastal environment, including the Great Barrier Reef, is not adversely affected by development along our coastline.  State and local governments will need to consider climate change in planning and development decisions across the state. The revised documents will come into effect in line with Queensland’s new planning legislation, the Planning Act 2016, on 3 July 2017.

Find out more →

New South Wales

Provided by Helen Ketelbey MEIANZ 

Improving planning assessment for state significant projects

The NSW Government will promote earlier and better engagement with the community in the assessment of large scale or complex projects, referred to as state significant development or state significant infrastructure. In late October 2016 Planning Minister Rob Stokes released a discussion paper with ideas on how to improve planning assessments, focused on building confidence in the assessment process. The proposals involve changes to many parts of the present system as they relate to state significant projects where impacts can be large and experienced over many years. 

Find out more →  

Social Impact assessment of state significant mining projects

The NSW Department of Planning is in the process of preparing new draft guidelines on social impact assessment that will be released for consultation. The purpose is to develop greater guidance on assessing and managing the social impacts of state significant mining projects. This arose from feedback on engagement forums in July 2016 with a mix of different mining communities to consider how local communities experience the social impacts of mining. The Department is aware that social impacts mean different things to different individuals, stakeholder groups and communities so they have started a conversation early in the policy development process with local councils, local community and environment groups, local business and industry groups, the local Aboriginal community, and other relevant local groups to hear about a range of different views and experiences. No timeframe is given but contact details are 1300 305 695 and at: SIA.Project@planning.nsw.gov.au.