Establishment of Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels

Establishment of Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels

The NSW Department of Planning has announced it is seeking expressions of interest from prospective panellists for its new Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels (IHAP).

The Panels will be set up under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 to provide independent and impartial technical advice to the Minister for Planning on complex or controversial proposals, major environmental planning instruments or proposed amendments to existing instruments.

As part of that task, the Panels will independently review, investigate and assess major project or planning issues and, if required, conduct panel hearings.

A “Register of Panellists” will be set up, including a list of experts selected from a broad range of disciplines with experience in environmental assessment, including: environmental science, urban and landscape planning, infrastructure planning and management, environmental and planning law, industries, natural and other hazards, transport, architecture, urban design, engineering, economics and social science.

Whenever a panel of experts is required, the Minister will select members of the “Register of Panellists” to constitute the panel.

The panellists and the areas of expertise represented will be reviewed every two years in consultation with the DirectorGeneral.

Panels will be appointed to provide independent advice at various stages of the assessment process. For example, the Panel may be required:

  • to provide advice to the DirectorGeneral on the assessment requirements and documentation required for the assessment of projects, concept plans, State significant sites or rezoning proposals
  • to assess major development proposals or rezonings
  • to hold public hearings
  • to hold roundtable meetings with interested parties
  • to carry out postdetermination functions

The recommendations of the Panel will be made public.