Posted on February 18, 2018 by Liam Mulligan and Megan Hawley

ALERT – Restructure of EPA Act and Other Amendments Commence on 1 March 2018

As discussed in previous blogs, the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (‘EPA Act‘) is about to undergo substantial amendment. The Department of Planning and Environment (‘DPE‘) has recently announced the timetable for the commencement of those amendments, and confirmed that some amendments are proposed to commence on 1 March 2018.

On 1 March 2018, the restructure and decimal renumbering of the EPA Act will take effect. This is posing significant challenges for planning authorities who need to update their forms and standard conditions and other documents to reflect the new numbering of key sections of the legislation. DPE has published a table as a quick reference guide to the new section numbers for key provisions. The table can be found here.

The amendments to the EPA Act regarding local planning panels made by the Environmental Planning and Assessment and Electoral Legislation Amendment (Planning Panels and Enforcement) Act 2017 have already commenced.  They provide that councils within the Greater Sydney Region and Wollongong City Council must have their local planning panels established by 1 March 2018.  From then, councillors of those councils (and any others who establish a local planning panel) will no longer be able to exercise the council’s functions as consent authority. See our blog regarding these amendments here.

In respect of the other amendments to be made by the Environmental Planning & Assessment Amendment Act 2017  (Amendment Act) which we discussed in detail here, the DPE has announced that the ending of the transitional arrangements for the former Part 3A of the EPA Act will take place on 1 March 2018. We understand that this will occur by way of amendment to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000. Former Part 3A projects are intended to be dealt with as state significant infrastructure or state significant development going forward.

Further amendments to the EPA Act to be made by the Amendment Act will be staggered over the coming years. Statements of reasons for decisions are intended to be required from mid 2018.  Consent authorities will be required to prepare local strategic planning statements from mid to late 2019 and community participation plans from late 2019. Changes to building and subdivision certifications will also occur around this time.

The final amendment scheduled for commencement, at this stage, is the introduction of standard form development control plans in mid 2020.

We will provide further alerts as each amendment is proposed to commence.

DPE’s timetable of amendments, along with an unofficial consolidated version of the amended EPA Act (showing the new decimal numbering) can be found here.