Sustainability plans to streamline decisions

11 May 2011

The government will provide $29.2 million over four years to support the development of seven “sustainability plans” for regional and coastal high growth centres by state and local governments. The program includes a grants component that will help build the capacity of local governments to develop “sustainability plans”.

The sustainability plans will be assessed under the strategic assessment provisions of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and will facilitate subsequent streamlined environmental decision making under the Act for these regions.


These strategic assessments will provide an opportunity to consider the federal environment issues in a growth region holistically, and make a single up-front decision about how biodiversity issues are to be managed.


This has the potential to help address the unnecessary red tape imposed by federal environmental laws. If done properly, the process should lead to the federal act project-by-project approval process being “switched off” once a sustainability plan has been assessed and approved by the federal government. This will reduce the need for expensive federal environmental reviews to be carried out for each individual planning application.


The Federal Government has not yet decided which seven regions will have sustainability plans prepared, although the Lower Hunter is a likely candidate.