Outrage over proposed EPA Act amendments

LEADING environmental groups are outraged at the Carr Government's proposed changes to the Environment Planning and Assessment Act, claiming the changes leave too much power in the hands of one person and remove all protection for the environment.

The changes, introduced to State Parliament last week by Minister for Planning Craig Knowles, are designed to streamline the application process for developers by bringing it under a single assessment and approv- al system.

The changes would only apply to projects deemed 'major infrastructure developments', such as dams, roads and trading ports, or 'critical infrastructure projects', which could be any development considered essential for NSW by the Minister for Planning.

Total Environment Centre coastal campaigner Fran Kelly said a major concern about the proposed bill was the lack of public input it allowed for.

"Not only does it (the Bill) cut down what they have to consider in the beginning, it prevents any interference from anyone such as councils, the public or environment agencies ... if they (developers) are doing the wrong thing," she said.

"Once development has been approved, that's it, you can't have any input ... and the only course of appeal is by going to the Minister."

Nature Conservation Council of NSW director Cate Faehrmann said the changes to the system would be a developer's dream, and leave the system open to corruption.

"Any law that leaves the approval for massive developments up to one person is open to abuse," she said.

"Throw developer donations into the mix and we're left with a system that is totally corruptible."

In his speech to parliament, Mr Knowles said the bill would 'improve the climate in which to do business in this state, while still providing appropriate levels of regulation'.

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