Planning and Infrastructure

Principles

The Greens NSW believe:

1. Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) must be the primary consideration underlying all planning decisions. Environmental and social considerations in the decision-making process have been secondary to economic considerations for many years and this needs to be reversed.

2. Climate change – both minimising emissions and adaptation to inevitable climate changes - must be central to all decisions about planning and infrastructure.

3. Democratic processes must be paramount. Communities must be empowered, involved and listened to in the making of planning laws and the determination of development applications. Decision making must be local, integrated and impartial.

4. Planning processes and decisions must be corruption proof.

5. The state’s natural, cultural, and built heritage - including Aboriginal heritage - must be protected and enhanced, and  We must ensure planning decisions protect our natural and built heritage, including Aboriginal heritage, and not simply manage and record its destruction.

6. Progressive aspirations for social and environmental justice must be ingrained in the law.

Aims

The Greens NSW want:

A. Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD)

7. All planning laws, policies, planning instruments and decisions must apply longstanding and internationally recognised ESD principles:

7.1. The precautionary principle— if there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, the benefit of the doubt must lie with protecting the environment. Lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as cover to allow development to proceed.

7.2. Inter-generational equity – when making planning decisions the health, diversity and productivity of the environment must be maintained or enhanced for future generations.

7.3. Biological diversity and ecological integrity— conserving diversity and ecological integrity is fundamental and these values must not be traded away for alleged economic benefits.

7.4. Improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms— environmental factors (clean air, water, trees, minerals and quietude) should be included in the valuation of development. Nature must no longer be seen as inexhaustible and free to be exploited. Polluters should pay for their pollution and waste management. The valuation of development must include its full life cycle costs.

B. Regard for climate change

8. Managing and adapting to the climate change emergency to be at the heart of every planning decision, and to meet and exceed Australia’s commitments to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. This will involve:

8.1. Requiring proponents to document the emissions of their development (construction, operation and decommissioning) and evaluate a proposal’s susceptibility to the likely impacts of climate change such as sea level rise, extreme heat, bushfires and flooding.

8.2. Ensuring the government provides guidance on estimating the emissions of development and the likely impacts of climate change such as sea level rise, extreme heat, bushfires and flooding.

8.3. Embedding incentives for low emission development in planning policies including standardised instruments to assess the greenhouse gas emissions, energy and water use of developments to promote more sustainable development.

8.4. Prioritising any new development capable of reducing or preventing greenhouse gas emissions.

8.5. Ensuring all planning laws, policies, planning instruments and decisions are consistent with achieving the goal of zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 8040.

8.6. Ensuring that the assessment of proposals for fossil fuel mining and extraction consider the impact on the climate caused by burning the fossil fuels that are extracted.

C. A democratic planning system   

9. Decision making on planning and development to be local, integrated and impartial, including by:

9.1. Decisions being made as close to communities as possible by local, elected representatives.

9.2. Maximising community consultation

9.3. Limiting the ability for state intervention by the planning minister.

9.4. Reducing the focus on quick approvals and instead focusing on good development outcomes.

9.5. Ensuring large projects, including infrastructure projects, are subject to full environmental, heritage and social impact assessment.

9.6. Ensuring local communities benefit from development by requiring more green open space and improved community facilities to accommodate increased density.

9.7. Giving equal appeal rights to the community and developers to challenge planning decisions.

9.8. Reinstating public funding for the Environmental Defenders Office.

9.9. Adopting collaborative, regional assessment processes where the impacts or benefits of a planning proposal extend beyond any one locality. The final decision is to be made by elected representatives from the affected councils with genuinely independent state planning officials undertaking the co-ordination of local responses and the assessment of the proposal.

D. A corruption proof planning system

10. Specific measures to prevent corruption and remove the influence of special interests in the planning system, including:

10.1. Maintaining and expanding the ban on developer donations to political parties and politicians.

10.2. Real time reporting of all political donations.

10.3. Preventing councillors from approving development contrary to the recommendation of council planning staff by providing an automatic review by a genuinely independent state planning commission whenever that happens.

10.4. Requiring environmental and other specialists who provide reports or assessments for planning matters to act with integrity. This includes the ability to obtain peer reviews of controversial reports with significant penalties and sanctions for providing wrong or misleading information in planning matters.

10.5. Abolishing private certification and reinstating public certifiers employed by local councils with independent professional regulation.

E. Protections for the state’s natural, cultural and built heritage including Aboriginal heritage  

11. To ensure that planning decisions protect our natural and built heritage, including Aboriginal heritage, and not simply manage and record its destruction. This requires all levels of government to work together to:  

11.1. Expand protected natural areas to maximise biodiversity and provide more resilient natural reserves.

11.2. Maximise, and where necessary reinstate, links and corridors between parks, nature reserves and forests to allow for the movement of biodiversity across the landscape.

11.3. Prioritise tree protection in both urban and regional NSW.

11.4. Recognise that Aboriginal people have the right to own and control Aboriginal culture and heritage. They must have the right to provide free, prior and informed consent before activities which will impact on Aboriginal heritage are permitted, and.

11.5. Implement Australia’s international conservation and heritage conventions in our planning laws.

F. Progressive aspirations for the planning system to achieve  

12. The planning system to achieve progressive planning outcomes in addition to a democratic and ethically robust planning framework, including:

12.1. Prioritisation of principles of universal design, and universal access to public spaces and services.

12.2. Affordable housing.

12.3. Healthy communities.

12.4. Active and public transport links.

12.5. Attractive human scale development.

12.6. Innovative design.

12.7. Decentralisation.

12.8. Food security.

The NSW Greens Planning and Infrastructure Policy includes detail relevant to its implementation in the current planning system. This further detail is contained in the attached Schedule

This Planning Policy has overlap with other NSW Greens policies including:

Air Quality

Biodiversity

Bushfire Risk Management

Coal and Coal Seam Gas

Coastal Management

Energy

Heritage

Housing and Homelessness

Regional Development

Social Equity

Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development

Transport

Water (Urban)