ACT legislation


Commencing operation in March 2008, the Planning Act replaced the Land (Planning and Environment) Act 1991 (ACT) (‘Land Act’). Planning is still administered by the ACT Planning and Land Authority (ACTPLA) and the Minister for Planning, referred to in this part of the chapter as the minister. The Planning Act regulates the EIA process in the ACT, some aspects of which are set out below:
  • The Planning Act distinguishes between the environmental assessment required for strategic level planning proposals (for example, amendments to the Territory Plan (TP), grant of leases, and some amendments to plans of management) and the environmental assessment required for individual development proposals. At the strategic level a Planning Report (PR) or Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is prepared whilst an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is prepared for some development proposals (Part 5.6 and Part 8.2)
  • The Planning Act does not require a Preliminary Assessment or Public Environment Report for the environmental assessment of development proposals. An EIS is now the sole method of environmental assessment of a development proposal that is likely to have an impact on the environment (Part 8.2)
  • The Planning Act does not permit the EIS and development application
(DA) processes to run concurrently—a completed EIS is a pre-requisite to a DA being lodged in the impact track (see Chapter 3 in this Handbook for more information on development applications) unless the minister has granted a proponent an exemption from this requirement under section 211H (s 127— Impact track–development applications)
  • The Planning Act is expected to be consistent with the requirements of the EPBC Act, enabling the Commonwealth to refer assessment of a development proposal requiring EPBC Act approval to the ACT in accordance with the applicable bilateral agreement (see second half of this chapter)
  • The Planning Act makes provision for an inquiry panel model—an independent expert inquiry panel model has been adopted in preference to the more formal Royal Commission-style inquiry powers found in the previous Land Act (Part 8.3)
  • The Planning Act contains an eight-part definition of ‘environment’, enabling the EIS process to be used for the assessment of the social impacts of a development proposal (ch 21 Dictionary).

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