Today’s budget announcement on planning will see communities and the environment bear the brunt of fast-tracked development under the Baird government’s plan to halve the assessment time for state significant development.

The budget has allocated $16.9 million to halve the time that it takes to assess the largest and most controversial developments in NSW, with $7 million provided to establish a “crack team within the Department of Planning and Environment.”

Greens MP and Spokesperson for Planning David Shoebridge said:

“State Significant Developments already ride roughshod over heritage and environmental laws, so plans to further fast track them can only come at the expense of proper environmental assessment and community consultation.

“Halving the time in which the largest developments are approved will almost entirely remove a community’s chance to properly review the social and environmental impact of a project.

“This is a $16 million pro-developer crack that will swallow up the last remnants of independent assessment for state significant projects.

“Any so-call ‘green tape’ reduction is clearly intended to benefit developers by silencing communities and stripping back environmental standards.

“The larger the project, the larger the impact, so these developments should have the highest levels of scrutiny and not be rushed through with a quick and dirty assessment process.

“A flawed approval for a project the size of Barangaroo, or a valley-destroying open-cut coal mine, can have enormous environmental and social impacts for decades into the future.

“The most harmful developments are the ones that need the most careful scrutiny and this should be done by independent and objective experts,” Mr Shoebridge said.

Jamie Parker MP, Member for Balmain, said:

“Any facilitation of express approvals for UrbanGrowth NSW projects, such as the Bays Precinct, will undermine proper strategic planning, and the accountability and transparency that are necessary for these large-scale projects. UrbanGrowth is already leading the charge on trashing local communities at the expense of development profits.”

Jenny Leong MP, Member for Newtown, said:

“The last thing this government should be fast-tracking is the dirty, polluting WestConnex tollroad. The likely impacts of this decision will be to further neutralise the community and drown out sensible public transport alternatives.”