Under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act), projects can be declared State significant development (SSD) if they are important to the State for economic, environmental or social reasons.
A development is considered significant to the State if it is over a specific size, is in an environmentally sensitive area or will exceed capital investment value.
Examples of SSD include:
- new education facilities, hospitals and correctional centres
- chemical industries
- manufacturing facilities
- mining and extraction operations
- tourist and recreation facilities
- some port facilities
- waste management facilities
- energy generating facilities.
Development on identified sites, including the Sydney Opera House and Olympic Park, can also be considered State significant.
The Department of Planning and Environment coordinates the assessment of all SSD projects under the EP&A Act. This involves carrying out relevant administrative functions, coordinating inputs from State and Commonwealth agencies and working closely with councils to ensure local and regional issues are considered.
Community involvement is essential to the process and all SSD development applications are on exhibition for at least 28 days.
Who determines State significant development applications?
The department prepares a detailed government-wide assessment report on the merits of an SSD project for the consent authority.
SSD projects are assessed under Division 4.7 of the EP&A Act and require development consent from the Independent Planning Commission or the Minister for Planning (or delegate) before proceeding.
The Independent Planning Commission is the consent authority for SSD applications if the applicant is not a public authority and:
- the local council has made a submission objecting to the application,
- the department has received 50 or more public objections in response to the exhibition of the application (petitions and submissions that contain substantially the same text count as one objection), or
- the applicant has made a reportable political donation.
The Minister is the consent authority for all other SSD applications. In some cases the Minister may delegate his decision-making function to department staff.
Rapid Assessment Framework
The Rapid Assessment Framework (RAF) has been introduced to support better assessment, coordination and engagement practices for SSDs. These improvements are driven by amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2021.
The RAF has been designed to speed up major project assessments by streamlining processes, refreshing environment impact statements (EIS) guidance and introducing the Registered Environmental Assessment Practitioners (REAP) Scheme.
State Significant Development Guidelines
The State Significant Development Guidelines provide a detailed explanation of the SSD process and set out clear expectations about the quality of environmental assessment documentation.
The EP&A Regulation requires SSD applicants to have regard to the guidelines when requesting the Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs), preparing EISs, responding to submissions, amending applications, and seeking to modify SSD consents.
For further information on the guidelines, visit the NSW Planning website.