Regional plans to transform environmental protection

Dept of Climate Change, Energy, Environment & Water

The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for the Environment and Water

The Hon Anthony Roberts MP, NSW Minister for Planning and Homes

The Australian Government has partnered with the New South Wales Government to make regional plans to help protect, restore, and manage the environment at four regional locations in New South Wales.

Last week, the Australian Government released its Nature Positive Plan: better for the environment, better for business. Legislation will be built on three basic principles; clear national standards of environmental protection, improving and speeding up decisions, and building trust and integrity.

Regional planning will be used as a tool to achieve this goal. Across Australia, regional planning will enable better and faster decision-making under Australia’s national environment law.

Regional plans will provide developers and environmentalists with clear guidance on where there are areas of high environmental value and development is largely prohibited, through to areas where certain developments can proceed under national environmental law.

The New South Wales Government will partner with the Australian Government to develop initial regional plans in four regions:

  • the Northern Rivers to support the relocation of the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation and reconstruction operations for flood affected areas
  • the Central Coast as an area experiencing urban development growth and pressure on biodiversity.
  • the Hunter-Central Coast Renewable Energy Zone to support the delivery of the required transmission network infrastructure to support new renewable energy generation and storage
  • the NSW component of the Loxton-Parilla Sands Basin, a 300,000 square kilometre area over the South Australian, Victorian and New South Wales border area, with heavy mineral sands deposits containing zircon, rutile ilmenite and monazite grains.

Developing a regional plan will be a highly collaborative process involving the local community, governments, business, natural resource management organisations, environmental NGOs, First Nations and technical experts.The Australian and NSW Governments will work with relevant stakeholders and First Nations people in each region early next year.

The Queensland Government is also partnering with the Australian Government to develop plans in three regions.

The Australian Government is keen to partner with other states and territories on regional planning and continues to discuss potential opportunities with a range of jurisdictions.

Quotes attributable to Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek:

“Nature is being destroyed. Businesses are waiting too long for decisions. That’s bad for everyone. Things have to change.

“That’s why we set out our Nature Positive Plan to halt environmental decline, repair nature and create more certainty for business.

“Regional plans are a critical tool to help Australia achieve this goal. By planning across a region, rather than approving individual projects, we can determine up front which sites must be protected from development because of their environmental significance.

“We will also be able to identify those areas where limited development can occur or areas where developers can proceed under national environment law.

“Doing business in this way means that environmental planners can address the cumulative impacts of having multiple projects in one area.

“Our Nature Positive Plan is win win. It’s a win for business and a win for the environment. I’m really looking forward to continuing to work with the business community, environmental groups and First Nations people, to give better environmental protection and faster decision making.”

Quotes attributable to NSW Minister for Planning and Minister for Homes Anthony Roberts:

“NSW Minister for Planning and Minister for Homes Anthony Roberts said this is an opportunity to work in partnership with the Federal Government to streamline the biodiversity approvals process, while balancing the needs of natural areas in NSW with the delivery of new homes and essential infrastructure.

“Having the necessary approvals in place from the get-go will provide certainty to landholders on the biodiversity value of their land and result in more homes being built faster, in the right places, without sacrificing essential conservation considerations,” Mr Roberts said.

“The Regional Plans identified for joint-development will also enable work to fast-track the recovery of our flood-affected communities in the Northern Rivers, and allow NSW to continue its trajectory as a leader in Australia’s transition to renewable energy, helping to expedite transmission and energy storage projects, such as the Hunter-Central Coast Renewable Energy Zone, and rare earth mining in far south west NSW to source the minerals needed for energy transition infrastructure.”

/Public Release. View in full here.