- Part 3A already gives the Planning Minister a disturbing degree of discretionary power, and removes many avenues for legal challenge of the Minister’s decisions. These amendments will completely remove the requirement for proponents to even assess the development’s impacts.
- This will affect projects far beyond Anvil Hill, and will remove the need for any Part 3A project to thoroughly assess environmental impacts.
- The Government is facing a legal challenge regarding the Anvil Hill coal mine proposal. The challenge seeks to ensure that the climate change impacts on the environment and community of NSW are fully assessed.
- Frank Sartor introduced the amendments this week, claiming that they were “housekeeping measures” but they will nullify the court challenge by removing the requirement for the Minister to consider any environmental assessment.
Will it affect projects beyond Anvil Hill?
The amendments will affect all Major Projects.
- Specific transitional arrangements in the amending Bill ensure that all projects that have approval pending will be affected by these changes. That means Anvil Hill, and dozens of other Major Projects, and if passed it will affect all developments declared as Major Projects from now on.
- In order to avoid assessing the full impacts of Anvil Hill, the Government is winding back 25 years of planning law, and is disregarding the public interest, and even public safety.
- Companies undertaking Major Projects, like chemical plants or mines, are currently required to undertake assessment within parameters set out by the Government.
- Following these changes, they will be able to write Environmental Assessments, if they write them at all, that do not discuss dangerous or destructive impacts of their project.
- This means that the public and the Government will be in the dark, and will not have the opportunity to avoid the worst impacts of Major Projects.
- This might expose NSW to serious risk of damage inflicted by private companies, for which the Government will be liable, because they will have abrogated their responsibility to assess the environmental impacts of the project.
What should we do about it?
You can click this link to send an email to every member of NSW parliament
Plus: Write immediately to the Premier, and copy your letter to the press.
Tell Morris Iemma that:
- I am disgusted that the Government is seeking to hide and evade true environmental impacts of coal mining and other destructive industries in NSW through the Environmental Planning Legislation Amendment Bill 2006
- I am concerned that these amendments will allow private companies to hide the potentially destructive impacts of Major Projects, exposing the public to danger and the Government to litigation.
- I call on you to sack your Planning Minister, Frank Sartor for misleading the parliament and the public by understating the intent and the substance of these amendments
The amendment that will excuse companies from conducting adequate environmental assessment will change section 75J of the EP&A Act. The Act currently says:
75J Giving of approval by Minister to carry out project
(a) the proponent has duly applied to the Minister for approval under this Part to carry out a project, and
(b) the environmental assessment requirements under this Division with respect to the project have been complied with,
the Minister may approve or disapprove of the carrying out of the project.
The amendments will change this section:
 Omit section 75J (1) (a) and (b). Insert instead:
(a) the proponent makes an application for the approval of the Minister under this Part to carry out a project, and
(b) the Director-General has given his or her report on the project to the Minister,
The Government has ensured through Savings and Transitional Arrangements for the Bill, that the amendments will apply to all projects for which approval is pending. This includes the Anvil Hill coal mine proposal, as well as the new Coal Exporting Terminal at Newcastle Harbour, the controversial Moolarben Coal Project and many others.
To find out about Anvil hill, and the battle to save it, visit www.anvilhill.org.au
For background information about the impacts of the export coal industry www.risingtide.org.au
See the Environmental Planning Legislation Amendment Bill 2006 at http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/NSWBills.nsf/0/5250B708FEE10903CA257211001D24E9
For further help, contact the Hunter Community Environment Centre: ph. 49261641 or visit www.hcec.org.au