Changes to major project assessment in NSW from 1st October 2021 include:

  1. SEARs (Planning Secretary’s environmental assessment requirements) will expire after 2 years – ‘ensuring that EISs are always based on up-to-date environmental considerations.’ Industry-specific SEARS are being developed.
  2. ‘The department has developed a comprehensive set of new guidelines to help improve the quality of environmental assessments and documentation for State significant projects.’ This includes both form and content of the EIS documents.
  3. There are three new technical guides:

Undertaking Engagement Guidelines for State Significant Projects

Cumulative Impact Assessment Guidelines for Significant Projects

Social Impact Assessment Guideline

  1. Registered Environmental Assessment Practitioner (REAP) Scheme:  ‘We are enhancing quality assurance for environmental assessment of State significant projects through a new accreditation system for registered practitioners.’ Declarations from REAPs will be required from 1st July 2022.
Change Old requirements New requirements
SSD and SSI Guidelines Some form and content for EIS and assessment reports set by Act, Regulations and DPIE assessment policy Form, content and process set by guidelines and empowered under Regulation
Technical guidelines Few formalised engagement, social and cumulative impact assessment standards Best practice and methodology set out in guidelines
SEARs expiry SEARs valid in perpetuity SEARs expire after 2 years
REAP Scheme and REAP declaration Some formal quality standards for EISs. Quality checked by DPIE assessment team prior to merit review. More information requested if needed. EIS to have quality review by suitably qualified practitioner before lodgement