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State development assessment

Queensland’s State interests in the environment are expressed through legislation and policies that are translated into the State Development Assessment Provisions (SDAP). The SDAP is a statutory instrument prescribed in the Planning Regulation 2017 that defines the State's interest in development assessment. The State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA) assesses development applications that may affect a state interest against the SDAP. The state uses SDAP to deliver a coordinated, whole-of-government approach to the State's assessment of development applications.

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Vegetation buffers and wind breaks help stop erosion. Photo by DES

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Planning tool
Queensland Wetland Buffer Planning Guideline
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The Planning Act 2016 provides the framework for land use planning and development assessment in Queensland. The chief executive administers the Planning Act 2016 through the State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA). While council is usually the development assessment manager, the Planning Regulation 2017 identifies the State Government as responsible for assessing certain developments which the State has jurisdiction over or a particular interest. These development applications may be referred to SARA for concurrence or advice (and in a small number of situations, an alternate assessment manager).

Where the chief executive is the prescribed assessment manager or referral agency under the Planning Regulation 2017, development is assessed against the State Development Assessment Provisions (SDAP). The SDAP is structured in a performance-based code format, whereby applicants can address performance criteria to demonstrate that a development appropriately manages impacts on matters of State interest (MSES). SARA assesses development applications against the relevant provisions of applicable SDAP state codes and issues a response or decision on behalf of the chief executive.

Under the Planning Act 2016, there are three categories of development: prohibited, accepted and assessable. The following information addresses assessable code development.

Triggers for SDAP code assessment include development that involves coastal resources, Great Barrier Reef wetland protection areas, native vegetation clearing, fisheries resources, water resources and environmentally relevant activities.

The following State codes address wetland values and functions:

  • SDAP state code 8: Coastal development and tidal works
  • SDAP state code 9: Great Barrier Reef wetland protection areas
  • SDAP state code 10: Taking or interfering with water
  • SDAP state code 11: Removal, destruction or damage of marine plants
  • SDAP state code 12: Development in a declared fish habitat area
  • SDAP state code 16: Native vegetation clearing
  • SDAP state code 18: Constructing or raising waterway barrier works in fish habitats
  • SDAP state code 22: Environmentally relevant activities

 

Note: Marine parks are not included in the framework and have a separate permitting process for development within a marine park.

SDAP state code 8 Coastal development and tidal works

The Coastal Protection and Management Act 1995 (CP Act) applies to the coastal zone and outlines State interests for coastal protection and management; one of its objectives is to provide for the protection, conservation, rehabilitation and management of the coastal zone, including its resources and biological diversity.

To protect or give effect to State interests, matters relating to development in a coastal management district or involving tidal works are dealt with under the Planning Act 2016, and are addressed through the State Development Assessment Provisions (SDAP – State code 8) as prescribed in the Planning Regulation 2017.

Mechanism and recognition of wetland values

Development in a coastal management district or involving tidal works for which the State is the assessment manager or referral agency is assessed against this SDAP code.

This code requires that development avoids adverse impacts on matters of State environmental significance (MSES) and where this is not reasonably possible, that impacts are minimised and significant residual impacts are offset where appropriate. These MSES include coastal wetlands, fish habitat areas and migratory species habitat. The code also provides for maintaining coastal processes and conserving coastal resources including vegetation, wildlife and the marine environment.

The purpose of this code is to ensure that development is designed and located to:

  1. protect life, buildings and infrastructure from the impacts of coastal erosion
  2. maintain coastal processes
  3. conserve coastal resources
  4. maintain appropriate public use of, and access to and along, state coastal land
  5. account for the projected impacts of climate change; and
  6. avoid impacts on matters of State environmental significance and, where avoidance is not reasonably possible, minimise and mitigate impacts, and provide an offset for significant residual impacts where appropriate.

In addition to the above, the purpose of this code is to ensure that development involving operational works, which is not assessed by local government is designed and located to protect life and property from the impacts of storm tide inundation.

Resources

SDAP state code 9 Great Barrier Reef wetland protection areas

The aim of the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (EP Act) is to protect Queensland's environment while allowing for development that improves the total quality of life, now and in the future, in a way that maintains the ecological processes on which life depends. This approach is termed 'ecologically sustainable development'. The Environmental Protection Regulation 2008 outlines State interests for wetlands.

To protect or give effect to State interests, matters relating to high impact earth works in a wetland protection area in the Great Barrier Reef are dealt with under the Planning Act 2016, and are addressed through the State Development Assessment Provisions (SDAP – State code 9) as prescribed in the Planning Regulation 2017.

Mechanism and recognition of wetland values

This code aims to ensure that proposed development involving high impact earthworks in a “wetland protection area” (WPA) is located outside of a wetland and is designed, constructed and operated to avoid or mitigate adverse impacts on wetland environmental values, or to enhance or protect those values. Where development cannot reasonably avoid or mitigate impacts on wetland environmental values, the impact must constitute an acceptable impact. Where there are significant residual impacts on MSES, these should be offset where appropriate.

WPAs are located in Great Barrier Reef catchments and comprise the wetland and an area around the wetland. The Environmental Protection Regulation 2008 describes wetland environmental values and provides for WPAs to be shown on the Map of Referable Wetlands.

The purpose of this code is to ensure that development involving high impact earthworks in a wetland protection area is located outside of a wetland and:

  1. is designed, constructed and operated to enhance or protect wetland environmental values; or
  2. is designed, constructed and operated to avoid or mitigate adverse impacts on wetland environmental values; or
  3. demonstrates that after all reasonable impact avoidance measures have been, or will be, undertaken, the development constitutes an acceptable impact on wetland environmental values; or
  4. avoids impacts on matters of State environmental significance, and where avoidance is not reasonably possible, minimises and mitigates impacts, and provides an offset for significant residual impacts where appropriate.

 

Note: Environmental values, for wetlands, means values declared under the Environmental Protection Regulation 2008 to be the environmental values for wetlands.

From the Environmental Protection Act 1994, environmental value means:

  1. a quality or physical characteristic of the environment that is conducive to ecological health or public amenity or safety; or
  2. another quality of the environment identified and declared to be an environmental value under an environmental protection policy or regulation.

Resources

SDAP state code 10 Taking or interfering with water

The Water Act 2000  (Water Act) provides a legislative basis for the sustainable planning and management of the State’s water resources. The Water Act outlines State interests for taking or interfering with water.

To protect or give effect to State interests, matters relating to works for taking or interfering with water are dealt with under the Planning Act 2016, and are addressed through the State Development Assessment Provisions (SDAP – State code 10) as prescribed in the Planning Regulation 2017.

Mechanism and recognition of wetland values

This code establishes requirements for development approvals for a range of activities in water areas including certain works that take overland flow and works that take or interfere with water in a watercourse, lake or spring and underground water. Under the Water Act, the definition of lake includes a swamp. This SDAP code protects natural riverine ecosystems, the physical integrity of watercourses, and natural overland flow paths. It also provides for the maintenance of natural processes of artesian and sub artesian systems.

The purpose of this code is to provide for the sustainable management of water by ensuring that development for taking or interfering with water:

  1. maintains and where reasonably possible reverses degradation of:
    1. natural ecosystem processes
    2. riverine environment
    3. underground water systems
    4. physical integrity of watercourses
  2. minimises adverse impacts on the:
    1. connectivity between underground water and water in a watercourse, lake or spring
    2. property of others
  3. is consistent with the requirements of water planning instruments and authorities to take or interfere with water under the Water Act
  4. does not adversely impact the water security of other users and their access to the water resource
  5. minimises the volume of overland flow water taken, consistent with the purpose of the development.

Resources

SDAP state code 11 Removal, destruction or damage of marine plants

The Fisheries Act 1994 (Fisheries Act) provides for the use, conservation and enhancement of the community's fisheries resources and fish habitats. The Fisheries Act outlines marine plants as a State interest. Marine plants are a vital component of fish habitat and provide for conservation and enhancement of fisheries resources and fish habitats.

To protect or give effect to State interests, matters relating to the removal, destruction or damage of marine plants are dealt with under the Planning Act 2016, and are addressed through the State Development Assessment Provisions (SDAP – State code 11) as prescribed in the Planning Regulation 2017.

Mechanism and recognition of wetland values

The purpose of this code is to ensure that development which involves the removal, destruction or damage of marine plants:

  1. maintains the extent, distribution, diversity and condition of marine plant communities and protects the ecological functions to which they contribute
  2. maintains the health and productivity of fisheries resources and fish habitat
  3. minimises impacts on the management, use, development and protection of fisheries resources and fish habitat
  4. avoids impacts on marine plants that are matters of state environmental significance, and where avoidance is not reasonably possible, minimises and mitigates impacts, and provides an offset for significant residual impacts where appropriate.

Resources

SDAP state code 12 Development in a declared fish habitat area

The Fisheries Act 1994 (Fisheries Act) provides for the use, conservation and enhancement of the community's fisheries resources and fish habitats. The Fisheries Act outlines State interests in relation to declared fish habitat.

To protect or give effect to State interests, matters relating to development in a declared fish habitat are dealt with under the Planning Act 2016, and are addressed through the State Development Assessment Provisions (SDAP – State code 12) as prescribed in the Planning Regulation 2017.

Mechanism and recognition of wetland values

A fish habitat area (FHA) declared under the Fisheries Act is an area protected against physical disturbance from coastal development. Queensland´s FHA network ensures fishing for the future by protecting all inshore and estuarine fish habitats (e.g. vegetation, sand bars and rocky headlands) contained within declared FHAs, which play the key role of sustaining local and regional fisheries.

This code relates to development in a declared fish habitat area. This code addresses the health and productivity of fisheries resources.

The purpose of the code is to ensure development in a declared fish habitat area:

  1. is limited to prescribed development purposes where there is a need for the development or the development will improve the condition of fisheries resources, fish habitat and natural processes
  2. maintains the natural condition of fish habitat and natural processes in management A areas
  3. maintains the current fish habitat values and functions of management B areas
  4. maintains the community and fishing sector’s use of the area and access to fisheries resources
  5. avoids impacts on marine plants, waterways that provide for fish passage and declared fish habitat areas that are matters of state environmental significance, and where avoidance is not reasonably possible, minimises and mitigates impacts, and provides an offset for significant residual impacts where appropriate.

Resources

SDAP state code 16 Native vegetation clearing

The Vegetation Management Act 1999 (VM Act) regulates the clearing of native vegetation in Queensland. The purpose of this Act is to regulate the clearing of vegetation in a way that among other things, conserves remnant vegetation, prevents the loss of biodiversity and maintains ecological processes. The VM Act outlines State interests in relation to native vegetation management.

To protect or give effect to State interests, matters relating to development and native vegetation are dealt with under the Planning Act 2016, and are addressed through the state development assessment provisions (SDAP - State code 16) as prescribed in the Planning Regulation 2017.

Note: In addition to this, a permit may be required under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (NC Act) for the clearing of native plants.

Mechanism and recognition of wetland values

Development approvals may be required for a number of clearing purposes and can include assessment for a proposed material change of use and reconfiguration of a lot. The SDAP code ensures that development avoids impacts on vegetation that is a matter of state environmental significance (MSES), and where avoidance is not reasonably possible, minimises and mitigates impacts and provides an offset for any acceptable significant residual impacts where appropriate.

The code includes provisions for the extent of vegetation associated with wetlands and watercourses to be maintained, by restricting specified clearing activities within defined wetland and watercourse protection zones. Under the code wetland means ‘an area of land that supports plants or is associated with plants that are adapted to and dependent on living in wet conditions for at least part of their life cycle, and are shown on the Vegetation Management Wetlands Map (a certified map under the VM Act showing particular wetlands for the State).

The purpose of this code is to ensure development:

  1. is consistent with any notice requiring compliance on the land subject to the development application unless a better environmental outcome can be achieved
  2. is consistent with vegetation management requirements for particular regulated areas unless a better environmental outcome can be achieved
  3. minimises contributions to greenhouse gas emissions
  4. avoids clearing, or where avoidance is not reasonably possible, minimises clearing to:
    1. conserve vegetation
    2. avoid land degradation
    3. avoid the loss of biodiversity
    4. maintain ecological processes; and
  5. avoids impacts on vegetation that is a matter of state environmental significance, and where avoidance is not reasonably possible, minimises and mitigates impacts and provides an offset for any acceptable significant residual impacts where appropriate. An offset is only appropriate for acceptable significant residual impacts on vegetation that forms a connectivity area for development that is a coordinated project or for necessary environmental clearing (natural channel diversion and contaminants removal).

Resources

SDAP state code 18 Constructing or raising waterway barrier works in fish habitats

The Fisheries Act 1994 (Fisheries Act) provides for the use, conservation and enhancement of the community's fisheries resources and fish habitats. The Fisheries Act outlines State interests in relation to declared fish habitat.

To protect or give effect to State interests, matters relating to constructing or raising waterway barriers works in a declared fish habitat are dealt with under the Planning Act 2016, and are addressed through the State Development Assessment Provisions (SDAP – State code 18) as prescribed in the Planning Regulation 2017.

Mechanism and recognition of wetland values

This code ensures that development involving the constructing or raising of waterway barrier works in a fish habitat avoids impacts on marine plants, waterways that provide for fish passage, and declared fish habitat areas that are matters of state environmental significance. Where avoidance is not reasonably possible, effort is made to minimise and mitigate impacts, and provide an offset for significant residual impacts where appropriate.

The purpose of the code is to ensure that development involving the constructing or raising of waterway barrier works in a fish habitat:

  1. maintains fish movement and connectivity throughout waterways and within and between fish habitats
  2. maintains the health and productivity of fisheries resources and fish habitat
  3. maintains the community and fishing sectors’ use of the area and access to fisheries resources
  4. only occurs where there is a need for the development and no other reasonable alternative exists
  5. provides adequate fish passage including a fish way, if necessary
  6. avoids impacts on marine plants, waterways that provide for fish passage and declared fish habitat areas that are matters of state environmental significance, and where avoidance is not reasonably possible, minimises and mitigates impacts, and provides an offset for significant residual impacts where appropriate.

Resources

SDAP state code 22 Environmentally relevant activities

The aim of the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (EP Act) is to protect Queensland's environment while allowing for development that improves the total quality of life, now and in the future, in a way that maintains ecological processes on which life depends. This approach is termed 'ecologically sustainable development'. The EP Act outlines State interests for environmental harm in relation to the natural environment.

To protect or give effect to State interests, matters relating to environmentally relevant activities are dealt with under the Planning Act 2016, and are addressed through the State Development Assessment Provisions (SDAP – State code 22) as prescribed in the Planning Regulation 2017.

Mechanism and recognition of wetland values

State assessment is required for a material change of use for an environmentally relevant activity (ERA) if the activity is a concurrence ERA under the Environmental Protection Regulation 2008. This SDAP code addresses matters to be considered in undertaking all concurrence ERAs and certain additional outcomes for intensive animal industries. Matters include the suitability of the site, the location and management of the activity on the site so that environmental values, including wetlands, are protected.

The purpose of the code is to ensure that environmentally relevant activities (ERAs):

  1. are located and designed to avoid or mitigate environmental harm on environmental values of the natural environment, adjacent sensitive land uses and sensitive receptors
  2. avoid impacts on matters of state environmental significance, and where avoidance is not reasonably possible, minimise and mitigate impacts, and provide an offset for significant residual impacts where appropriate.

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Disclaimer

While every care is taken to ensure the accuracy of this product, the Queensland Government and Australian Government make no representations or warranties about accuracy, reliability, completeness or suitability for any particular purpose and disclaim all responsibility and all liability (including without limitation, liability in negligence) for all expenses, losses, damages (including indirect or consequential damage) and costs which might be incurred as a consequence of reliance on the product, or as a result of the product being inaccurate or incomplete in any way and for any reason.


Last updated: 26 July 2018

This page should be cited as:

State development assessment, WetlandInfo 2018, Department of Environment and Science, Queensland, viewed 9 October 2018, <https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/management/legislation-update/state-dev-assessment/>.

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Science