HG Paper: Conserving South East Queensland's Koalas - Mar 2009

The draft South East Queensland Koala State Planning Regulatory Provisions (DRPs) came into effect on 12 December 2008.  The DRPs replace existing koala protection measures in respect of land within the south east Queensland urban footprint area and, in conjunction with the Integrated Planning Regulation 1999, make the Department of Infrastructure and Planning (DIP) a concurrence agency for particular development applications.  By way of summary, the DRPs:

  • Apply to development in interim koala habitat protection areas;
  • Are not drafted clearly.
  • Require applicants to enter an offset agreement with the State government before the DIP determines the development application.
  • Provide a complex framework of offsets, so that most developers of land in an interim koala habitat protection area will need to engage experts to calculate residual habitat impact and offsets, and to assist in preparing development applications.
  • Require all development applications to include a component of “high quality habitat measures”.
  • Appear to make the DIP a concurrence agency for development applications for development permits for material change of use and reconfiguration of a lot even where the development permits are required by a preliminary approval.
  • Appear to make the DIP a concurrence agency for development applications for development permits for material change of use and/or reconfiguration of a lot although those development permits are required by existing development permits (e.g. where a development permit for material change of use requires a development permit for reconfiguration of a lot).
  • May be given weight by assessment managers where a development application was made before the DRPs came into effect but the Council’s decision stage had not started and by the Planning and Environment Court in an appeal.
  • For development applications made after 12 December 2008, appear to effectively remove the Planning and Environment Court’s ability to review koala conservation measures on the merits, because of the mandatory requirement to enter into an agreement with the State.
  • Introduce an independent secondary planning assessment by the DIP, unrelated to koala conservation, which involves determining whether the development proposed is “consistent with” the relevant planning instruments.  It is quite likely that, in many instances, such consistency will be difficult to achieve.
  • Appear to be drafted more restrictively than is necessary to achieve their intent and in practice have the potential to operate retrospectively.

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