The development industry recognises the imperative of ensuring that development delivers positive environmental outcomes. However, the present environmental approval process is complex, inefficient and often does not achieve good environmental outcomes. Overlap and duplication between planning and environmental legislation and between Commonwealth and State bodies has resulted in a complex approvals process where environmental considerations frequently predominate over wider planning considerations. In addition, State priorities are often overridden by Federal policy. Whilst these failings are recognised by Government, attempts to resolve this are yet to be achieved.
To reduce this inefficiency and to improve environmental outcomes, it is critical that environmental approvals are embedded within and balanced against the broader objectives of strategic land use plans.
In addition to these complexities and despite the best of intentions, the environmental approval process often fails to deliver good environmental outcomes. For example, recent issues regarding the categorisation of fill as waste is likely to limit recycling opportunities and therefore restrict positive environmental outcomes, whilst also adding significantly to the cost of new homes.
UDIA will undertake a proactive approach and seek innovative solutions to issues and challenges faced by industry that deliver the best possible outcomes for the environment and our communities.
The UDIA calls for:
- The integration and consolidation of Federal, State and local government environmental approvals to provide greater clarity and certainty;
- The integration of State planning and environmental approvals processes to remove duplication and inclusion of environmental approvals into strategic planning documents and structure planning to streamline the approvals process;
- Environmental approvals and controls that are thoughtfully considered and continually monitored to ensure the delivery of positive environmental outcomes;
- Accurate and up to date environmental data that is maintained and made publicly available;
- Suitable recognition of the value of natural habitats including wetlands and the provision of appropriate economic incentives such as public open space credits for passive recreation purposes;
- Bush fire legislation that is current and appropriate to the level of risk across differing regions;
- Greater recognition of the positive contribution that the development industry has made, and can have with regard to the preservation, restoration and enhancement of the natural environment.