Posted on March 26, 2013 by Frances Tse
Amendments to Mining SEPP to implement coal seam gas exclusion zones
The Department of Planning and Infrastructure (DOPI) has recently published proposed amendments to the State Environmental Planning Policy (Mining, Petroleum Production and Extractive Industries) 2007 (Mining SEPP) for public consultation.
The purpose of the proposed amendments is to prohibit coal seam gas development in certain areas, including in and near residential areas.
Coal seam gas is petroleum containing certain hydrocarbons which is in gaseous state and is extracted from coal beds.
Coal seam gas development is proposed to be defined in the Mining SEPP as development for the purpose of the exploration of coal seam gas, or the recovery, obtaining or removal of coal seam gas. It specifically excludes, the recovery, obtaining or removal of coal seam gas in the course of mining, or development which is exempt development under clause 10 or 10A of the Mining SEPP.
The effect of the proposed amendments is to preclude coal seam gas development from being carried out in exclusion zones. Exclusion zones are:
- residential land, being land in or within 2 kms of land in Zone R1 General Residential, Zone R2 Low Density Residential, Zone R3 Medium Density Residential, Zone R4 High Density Residential, Zone RU5 Village, or a land use zone that is equivalent to those zones,
- certain land in or within 2 kms of land in Zone R5 Large Lot Residential (or a land use zone that is equivalent to that zone) that is listed in Schedule 3, which will be land that meets the DOPI’s criteria of land of village character,
- future residential growth areas, which at present is proposed to include the North West Growth Centre and South West Growth Centre under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Sydney Region Growth Centres) 2006 and land within 2 kms of that land, and
- critical industry cluster land, which at present is proposed to include equine and viticulture land in the Upper Hunter.
Draft maps showing the proposed critical industry cluster land and future residential growth areas are also on exhibition.
DOPI states that local councils will be asked to nominate particular areas zoned R5 within their local government areas for listing in Schedule 3 of the Mining SEPP. The DOPI will then assess whether that land should be an exclusion zone based on the following proposed criteria:
- the area must contain a mix of land uses,
- the zone must apply to a settlement that is long established and has some historic association with the district, region and/or rural hinterland,
- the area must contain a mix of lot sizes, including an average lot size of up to 4,000 square metres.
The amendments will also allow local councils to request that certain land be exempted from the exclusion zones.
Local councils may wish to review the documents, in particular the draft maps to identify land within their local government areas that is proposed to be within an exclusion zone and to consider whether any land should be exempted, or whether any additional land zoned R5 should be included in an exclusion zone.
If the proposed amendments to the Mining SEPP are made, they will apply to applications made but not finally determined before the commencement of the amendments in addition to applications made on or after that time.
Submissions on the draft amendment to the Mining SEPP can be made until 12 April 2013. The draft amendment supporting documents can be found on the DOPI website.