The EPA has a statutory and a non-statutory role in the South Australian planning system and it is important that the EPA ensures there is proper representation of environmental management issues at each stage of the planning system.
In August 2011, the EPA Board formed the Planning Review Committee to review the EPA’s involvement in the South Australian planning system and to ensure it exercises appropriate influence over the decisions that are being made within the system. The Planning Review Committee examined how the EPA undertakes its work in the planning system, specifically examining strategic planning, planning policy, development applications, and major developments or projects.
The Planning Review Committee recommended that the EPA focus its resources and efforts more strongly on early engagement at the strategic planning and policy development stages. This will ensure that input into development assessment is streamlined and simplified, and that the EPA develops policy statements that articulate its position on key environmental issues. The EPA will work to build more influential relationships with planning authorities and planners.
19 recommendations recommended by the Planning Review Committee
As a result of this review, the EPA is changing its involvement in, and approach to, the planning system.
The following information presents some of the work being undertaken by the EPA to improve and make clear its interaction with the planning system.
The EPA’s role, goal and interest in the South Australian planning system
To aid clarity among other government agencies, planning authorities, and the development community about what is to be achieved through the EPA’s involvement, and in order for the EPA to participate effectively in the planning system, the EPA has identified and articulated its role, goal and interest statement to frame its input to relevant planning matters.
Position statements and guidelines
Position statements and guidelines will inform how the EPA will assess environmental issues at the various stages of the South Australian planning system.
The position statements will contribute to the protection of the environment and community health for all South Australians by providing a clear statement that will assist planning authorities and proponents of development understand the position of the EPA on environmental issues in relation to the South Australian planning system.
Development application risk-based framework
The EPA is trialing an Environmental Impact Assessment Risk-based Framework (EIA Framework) to streamline and simplify the EPA’s development assessment process, and to ensure that assessment is proportional to the level of likely environmental risk.
The key elements of the trial EIA Framework are:
- Screening criteria: to identify activities with a high inherent environmental-risk requiring detailed assessment
- Environmental objectives: identifying appropriate environmental objectives for the proposed development
- Evaluation criteria: selection of appropriate environmental criteria, or factors for assessing officers to consider in their evaluation, to determine if the desired environmental objectives can be met.
When screening criteria are triggered, the EIA Framework outlines a logical decision-making process to identify the EPA's environmental objectives, and evaluation criteria or factors to consider to assist EPA staff in the assessment process.
Site contamination framework
The role of the planning system in relation to site contamination is to ensure that, as far as is practically possible, land is not developed for a more sensitive use unless/until site contamination risks have been considered and it is ensured that the land is suitable for the proposed use.
Site contamination is addressed in the planning system via a risk-management approach which allows for progressive certainty to be delivered within the lowest prudent cost and time parameters.
The Framework for managing site contamination through the South Australian Planning System, prepared by the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) and the EPA in consultation with the community, describes the staged approach for addressing site contamination through the planning system and should be read to understand the process for assessing site contamination.