Public authorities are responsible for essential infrastructures like hospitals, schools, roads, railways, emergency services, water supply or electricity. These items contribute to people’s quality of life and their construction and operation can also be an economic stimulant with lasting societal benefits.
There are several assessment pathways that these types of development can take in NSW. One of these uses Part 5, Division 5.1 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) to review the environmental impacts of activities that are ‘permitted without development consent’ (under Part 4 of the EP&A Act).
If an activity is ‘development permitted without consent’, a proponent won’t need to obtain development consent. Instead, they will need to assess the environmental impacts of the activity through a Division 5.1 assessment and record that assessment in the report referred to as a Review of Environmental Factors (REF).
Section 171(4) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2021 requires (from 1 July 2022) the proponent of a Part 5 activity to publish REFs it prepares, where the activity:
- has a capital investment value >$5M, or
- requires one or more of the following approvals or permits-
- Fisheries Management Act—sections 144, 200, 205 or 219, or
- Heritage Act—section 57, or
- National Parks and Wildlife Act—section 90, or
- Protection of the Operations Act—sections 47-49 or 122, or
- is considered by the determining authority to be in the public interest.
The following REFs have been prepared by Richmond Valley Council: