Submission: Inquiry into environmental planning instruments (SEPPs)

The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the NSW Legislative Council Regulation Committee Inquiry into Environmental Planning Instruments (SEPPs).

NSWCCL makes this submission for a number of key reasons:

a. To ensure that adequate safeguards are in place for the creation of SEPPs in recognition that parliament is the supreme law making body in the state;

b. In recognition that the climate change poses a significant and increasing threat to the ability for citizens’ and others residents’ civil liberties and human rights, and that any decisions made which concern the environment should be appreciative of the adverse effects of climate change; and,

c. In recognition that First Nations communities voices should be recognised and afforded significant weight in the development of environmental and planning policy.

Accordingly, NSWCCL can see no reason why SEPPs should be exempted from the statutory regime for the parliamentary disallowance of delegated legislation set out under s. 41 of the Interpretation Act 1987 (NSW). Exempting SEPPs from this regime allows for the Minister to exercise an almost unfettered discretion in preparing SEPPs which remove part of the planning powers from local government and can make decisions without due regard to the threat multiplier of climate change or the voice of First Nations communities. To remedy this, NSWCCL recommends that SEPPs be subject to the statutory regime for disallowance.

Moreover, NSWCCL also sees no reason as to why the Minister has discretion to not consult with the community in the process of making a SEPP, particularly in circumstances where the subject matter regulated by the SEPP would usually be subject to the jurisdiction of democratically elected local governments. NSWCCL, therefore, recommends that the requirements for public consultation by the Minister in making a SEPP be strengthened.

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