The Planning Minister has declared the final State Planning Provisions (SPPs), which will take effect on 2 March 2017.

You can read the Tasmanian Planning Commission’s report, the final SPPs and the Minister’s Statement of Reasons.

Key environmental issues arising from the SPPs include:

  • The SPPs are still not supported by a comprehensive suite of State Policies to guide planning outcomes. The Planning Commission acknowledges, in particular, the need to review the State Coastal Policy as a matter of urgency.  Other areas without a strategic policy basis include integrated transport, population and settlements, biodiversity management, tourism and climate change.
  • The Minister rejected the Planning Commission’s recommendation that the Natural Assets Code be scrapped in its entirety.  The Commission recommended that a new Code be developed after proper consideration of the biodiversity implications of proposed exemptions, and the production of adequate, Statewide vegetation mapping.
  • The Natural Assets Code in the final SPPs does include a number of amendments (e.g. expanding protection to native vegetation of local importance, even if not listed as threatened, and no longer allowing clearing up to 3,000m2 to be permitted in the Rural Living Zone).  However, many of the fundamental weaknesses remain:
    • the Code does not prevent native vegetation clearing in the Agriculture Zone
    • the Code does not protect drinking water catchments
    • the Code does not prevent clearing in national parks and reserves or on pasture or orchard land
    • mapping of priority vegetation is left to local Councils, supported only by TasVeg and Natural Values Atlas tools that are acknowledged to be incomplete.
  • Despite an acknowledgement from the Minister that the Reserve Activity Assessment process “needs review”, developments in national parks approved under that process will continue to avoid public scrutiny.
  • New provisions have been inserted to allow Councils to “call-in” developments they consider risky in terms of coastal erosion or inundation , even if the development site is not currently mapped as a risk area.
  • Local councils will be required to maintain their local heritage registers.
  • The Planning Commission acknowledges that the SPPs are designed to limit local variation, but queries whether a “one-size fits all” model will deliver certainty:

If local character is a point of difference and an attribute of all Tasmanian places, unintended consequences may flow from denying local differences. The ‘one size fits all’ approach is likely to result in planning authorities seeking more exceptions through the inclusion of particular purpose zones, specific area plans and site-specific qualifications…

  • The Planning Commission also recommends a review of development standards in the General Residential and Inner Residential Zones to assess whether the provisions deliver greater housing choice, encourage infill development, or unreasonably impact on residential character and amenity.
  • No new Codes have been developed to address stormwater and on-site waste disposal, acid sulfate soils or Aboriginal heritage.

Local Councils are now required to develop Local Provisions Schedules for their municipality, with draft LPS expected to be released for public consultation later in 2017.

For an overview of the process for developing Local Provisions Schedules, click here.

Planning continues to be a major work area for EDO Tasmania – helping the community to understand the changes, and advocating for better planning outcomes.  To help support this work, donate to our legal fund.