Posted on February 25, 2016 by Frances Tse

Revised Community Consultative Committee Guidelines for State Significant Projects

The Department of Planning and Environment has revised its guidelines on Community Consultative Committees so that they apply not only to  mining projects but to State significant projects generally. The draft Community Consultative Committee Guidelines (Draft Guidelines) are now available on the Department’s website and submissions are invited up to 31  March 2016.

Community Consultative Committees (Committees) are advisory committees comprised of an independent chairperson and representatives from the community, the local council and the entity undertaking a project. The purpose of Committees are to provide a forum for open discussion on issues directly relating to a project.

The existing Community Consultative Committee Guidelines were published in 2007 and apply only to mining projects. Those guidelines  set out how Committees are to be established and operated if a condition of a mining approval requires a Committee.

The purpose of the Draft Guidelines remain largely the same. However, the Draft Guidelines will relate to State significant projects generally and not just to mining projects.

The Draft Guidelines also revises the existing guidelines to:

  • allow a Committee to be set up earlier in the assessment process rather than only at post-approval stage,
  • expressly provide that the Department will decide when a Committee will need to be established,
  • revise the selection criteria for community representatives and include new selection criteria for representatives from environmental organisations,
  • include stronger guidance on the conduct of meetings including a requirement for members to sign a code of conduct agreement, and
  • include a ‘toolkit’ with prescribed forms to be used in the process of establishing and operating a Committee.

The composition of a Committee and its role as an advisory rather than a decision-making body remain the same. A Committee’s role may include:

  • providing advice to the entity undertaking a project on measures that could be implemented to minimise impacts,
  • identifying key issues for the assessment of projects,
  • reviewing the performance of the project and provide feedback on environmental management,
  • undertaking regular inspections of the project’s operations,
  • reviewing complaints handling procedures,
  • providing advice on how to improve community relationships.

All councils and not just those in mining areas should be aware of the Draft Guidelines as they may need to appoint representatives to Committees for future State significant projects in their area.