The department, criticised for contributing to “green tape” by the New South Wales Minerals Council, is receiving submissions on how it can improve efficiency and assist with more timely approvals of major projects.
“We welcome the NSW Minerals Council’s submission on the new planning system and will take it into consideration,” it said.
“Our initial assessment indicates that the submission overstates alleged mining project delays by failing to take into account the time proponents took to prepare their applications and respond to submissions.
“Additionally, several of the mining projects mentioned in the submission involved complex issues where the proponents had failed to adequately address potential impacts.
“In these cases, it was necessary for the department to subject the projects to further examination.”
The NSW Minerals Council said it welcomed any moves to reduce green tape and duplication in the state and federal planning systems.
“The NSW planning system is the state’s biggest roadblock to investment. NSW will pay a high economic price if mining projects continue to be subjected to lengthy assessment delays,” NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee said.
“To avoid an economic body blow of this magnitude the NSW Government needs to replace the current broken planning system with a more efficient system that provides certainty and consistency for mining projects,” Galilee said.
“The renewed push by Premier O’Farrell for a streamlined state and federal approvals process is an important step in delivering better economic outcomes for NSW without compromising environmental standards,” he said.
“Last year the Commonwealth reneged on their commitment to pursue this important reform. It is now time for all parties to return to the table and get it done.
“In the meantime, the NSW Government’s current review of its own planning system is an opportunity to deliver real improvements to approvals processes for major NSW projects.
“The current complicated NSW approvals assessment system is holding back our state. Action is needed to fix this mess which is threatening investment and putting jobs at risk.”
Research conducted by Pricewaterhouse Coopers has found that delays in the planning system come at a significant economic cost, according to the NSW Minerals Council.
The research found that delays of 12 or more to mining assessment times will cost NSW 29,000 jobs across the state, $10.3 billion in lost investment and $600 million a year in lost mining royalties over the next 20 years.
“We recognise there is scope for improvement in the existing and future planning systems. However, at the same time we encourage companies to ensure they consult early with local communities and submit project applications that properly address environmental impacts,” the Department of Planning said.