STANDING COMMITTEE ON STATE DEVELOPMENT
Report: Coastal Planning and Management
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI [2.42]: I table a report of the Standing Committee on State Development entitled "Coastal Planning and Management in New South Wales: The Process for the Future, Volume II".
Ordered to be printed.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. PEZZUTTI: I move:
That the House take note of the report.
It gives me great pleasure to table the report of the Standing Committee on State Development entitled "Coastal Planning and Management in New South Wales: The Process for the Future, Volume II". This is the second and final of the standing
committee's reports on the issue of coastal development. It completes an inquiry of 3½ years' duration. The inquiry has been a monumental effort, both in the size of the task and the breadth and significance of the two reports. Honourable members may recall that the committee's original terms of reference for this inquiry were to inquire into and report upon the environment and or other implications of development in the costal region of New South Wales and or any other matter incidental to or arising from the above terms of reference. This left the committee with a giant task, yet free to range broadly over the ground that needed to be covered. The committee's volume I report, entitled "A Framework for the Future", was tabled in September 1991. It contained more than 70 recommendations relating to the broad principles of coastal planning and management. At a number of public seminars on the coast relating to the issues raised in the volume I report, the committee was pleased to note a very positive public response to its work. In finalising the volume II report, the committee has continued its extensive program of public participation, receiving more than 50 submissions, in addition to more than 350 received earlier, and conducting a number of public hearings.
The volume I report stated that the central goals of the committee's inquiry were to increase certainty and reduce conflict; to increase pro-active planning, and to ensure ecologically sustainable development. The committee concluded that the attainment of these goals would require considerable changes to the present coastal planning and management systems - to institutions, procedures and attitudes. In its volume II report, the committee addressed the issue of what processes are required to ensure the successful implementation of the strategies for improved coastal development outcomes outlined in volume I. The volume II report contains 52 recommendations, relating to four specific areas: the development approval process; environmental impact assessment; the planning appeals process, and the environment protection measures. The committee has concluded that, in order to achieve the considerable reforms in coastal planning and management envisaged in the volume I report, changes are required in institutions, procedures and attitudes. The committee believes that substantial positive change can be achieved with some modifications to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act but, more importantly, with a shift in the culture and attitudes of the key players involved in coastal development and with a streamlining of decision-making processes.
The State Government must drive the reform process. The committee welcomes the commitment to streamlined development approval processes contained in the "New South Wales Facing the World" statement. It is also incumbent on local councils and State authorities involved in approving coastal development to reduce cost delay and uncertainty in their approval procedures. The committee recommends earlier public involvement in the decision-making process, better regional planning, greater consultation between councils, proponents and interested parties, more use of alternative dispute resolution techniques to avoid the costs associated with the legal system, and the quick processing of straightforward development applications. The committee endorses the concept of the one-stop-shop approval process in local government decision-making. The committee confronted the vexed issue of environmental impact assessment and made recommendations to improve the process. In particular, the committee endorsed industry accreditation of environmental impact assessment consultants and the monitoring of actual environmental impacts.
On the critical issue of environment protection measures, the committee made a number of important recommendations, particularly in the area of the cumulative impact of developments which cause environmental problems. The committee saw an important role for local government in managing the process of controlling non-point source
pollution in conjunction with the Environment Protection Authority. The committee also recommended the introduction of regional environment protection programs. In completing its inquiry, the committee is aware of a number of important current developments which will affect the way in which the New South Wales coastline is managed. These developments include the Department of Planning's review of the New South Wales planning system; the Government's natural resources legislative package; the Commonwealth Resource Assessment Commission's current inquiry into the coastal zone; and the intergovernmental agreement on the environment signed by the States and the Commonwealth in May this year. The committee has taken on board these developments. It has also considered carefully the views of interested parties and those the general public expressed in more than 50 submissions to the committee, along with the 350 submissions that were received earlier in the inquiry and in public hearings. The committee's recommendations are timely and achievable and, if adopted, will lead to better outcomes in coastal decision-making processes. Finally, I thank all members of the committee and the secretariat for the many hours of work dedicated to this report. In particular, mention should be made of the committee director, Michael Jerks, the senior project officer, Paul Collits, and committee officers Heather Crichton and Annie Marshall for their efforts. I commend the report.
Debate adjourned on motion by the Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti.