State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPP's) were laws which helped protect vulnerable native species and their habitats but are now vulnerable themselves.
State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPP's) were laws which helped protect vulnerable native species and their habitats but are now vulnerable themselves. Contributed

Green tape cut stirs up debate

DEPENDING on where you sit politically, in terms of the environment, the NSW Government is about to either cut green tape, or endanger native flora and fauna.

The Coalition is doing a complete overhaul of the State's planning legislation. On the chopping block are all State Environmental Planning Policies.

These policies, or SEPPs, as they are referred to by those in the planning business, were laws which helped protect vulnerable native species and their habitats.

Everything from a coastal wetland, to coastal rainforest, koala habitats and urban bushland areas had their own protective law.

The system meant as soon as a council noted one of these areas was endangered, by a development, it could halt all plans until the developer showed there would be a minimal, or non-existent, impact.

Acting director of planning at Clarence Valley Council David Morrison said if the SEPPs were scrapped, there would still be local planning regulations to protect these things.

But he acknowledged a State law had a better chance of standing up in the courts than a local regulation, should a developer challenge a decision.

The NSW State Government and the Department of Planning and Infrastructure remain adamant the laws are not endangered.

And a departmental spokesman said they: "Will be converted into new plain-English, and easy to use, NSW planning policies."

But NSW Nature Conservation Council CEO Pepe Clarke said this simply was not enough and he was unconvinced.

He was very concerned scrapping these laws would lead to bulldozers in our nature reserves.

Mr Clarke toured the Northern Rivers last week to raise awareness on the issue.

The Department of Planning has been given the unenviable brief of re-writing all existing legislation into one easy to read Act.

The legal planning controls will be incorporated into local plans.

This will make the system easier to use and understand, a spokesman said.



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