Proposed “reform” of PWS RAA process is not a reform at all

The inadequacies of the Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) Reserve Activity Assessment process (RAA; the process for the environmental impact assessment of proposed developments on reserved land) have been a major concern of TNPA since 2016 (see here). TNPA’s key concerns are that the process needs to:

  • be statutory (defined in law) and have a clearly defined relationship to the statutory local government assessment process;
  • be open and transparent;
  • provide for meaningful public comment; and
  • provide for third party appeal rights on the merits of the proposal.

The state government has released its long-awaited proposal for reform of the RAA process, available here. There is an associated proposal to change the existing management planning process.

This so-called “reform” is not a reform of the RAA process at all. The existing RAA process, which is unsatisfactory for all the reasons listed above, will remain unchanged. The “reform” is a proposal to add an entirely new process similar to the current proposal that certain development applications should be determined by a development assessment panel (DAP) rather than an elected local council. The intention of the “reform” is to fast-track large and/or controversial proposals for development on reserved land. It proposes that developments that the Minister decides meet certain criteria will be assessed by an “independent assessment panel” and will not be subject to appeal on the merits of the proposal.

This is likely to result in worse outcomes than the current situation in which proposals on reserved land usually require approval from local government which provides appeal rights via the local government process (as occurred with the Lake Malbena proposal).

We anticipate providing a submission guide next week and a more detailed analysis of the proposed process well before the opportunity for public submissions closes on 8 March 2024. A public meeting (“Scrap the DAPs”) to discuss the implications of the proposed [Development] Assessment Panels (DAPs) in the assessment of proposed developments on both private and reserved land has been organised by Planning matters Alliance (PMAT) in the Hobart Town Hall at 1pm on Wednesday 6 March.

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