Property and Infrastructure Specialists
Views

State significant developments require greater independent environmental scrutiny to secure approval

The State Government routinely identifies property developments as being State Significant, depending on their size, economic value or potential impact on communities. Schools and hospitals typically fall within this description. It’s the responsibility of the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) to assess and provide recommendations for state significant developments as part of the approvals process. These Conditions of Consent include requirements for independent environmental audits.
State significant developments require greater independent environmental scrutiny to secure approval

The Independent Audit Post Approval Requirements (PAR) is one of a new suite of documents prepared by the DPE. From July 2018 the new standard condition, requiring independent audits to be undertaken in accordance with the Independent Audit PAR, was imposed on consents and approvals of new projects.

These PAR documents aim to achieve a consistent, transparent and documented approach to undertaking post-approval activities such as independent auditing, to verify compliance with the conditions of approval. 

From an environmental perspective, compliance requirements relating to the conditions of consent are generally imposed on the principal contractor during the construction and operational phase of the works. For example, a condition of consent may require the contractor to prepare an Environmental Management Plan which sets out the environmental processes and controls throughout project delivery. The DPE may issue fines between $3000 and $15,000 for noncompliance with conditions of consent. For the most severe breaches, prosecutions incurring criminal convictions and fines of up to $5 million may be imposed.

Our AQUAS team is currently working with Health Infrastructure NSW (HI) to undertake periodic independent environmental audits on a number of hospital redevelopment projects, including the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital redevelopment. Since our engagement on this major redevelopment, HI has appointed AQUAS to three further hospital redevelopment projects at Lismore, Mudgee and Nepean.