How major development applications are assessed
The Minister for Planning can declare a proposed development or land use a major development if it is of state economic, social or environmental significance, and if a declaration is required for appropriate assessment.
Declaration does not imply government support or otherwise for the proposal. It is the start of a rigorous, whole of government assessment process.
The major development assessment process
Stage 1 - Referral to the State Commission Assessment Panel
Once a proposal has been declared a major development by the minister and a formal development application has been received, it is referred to the State Commission Assessment Panel (SCAP).
Applications at this stage are preliminary and conceptual in nature so they are not publicly released for comment as full detailed design and information have not been included in the application - this will occur later in the assessment process.
SCAP considers the application and identifies the key social, environmental and economic issues relevant to the assessment of the proposal. SCAP engages with the state agencies as part of this process to ensure all aspects of the proposal are considered.
The SCAP will then determine the level of assessment required and issue formal guidelines outlining all the issues that need to be addressed and any further information required to enable a proper assessment of the proposal.
There are three levels of assessment that the SCAP can set:
- Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
- Public Environmental Report (PER)
- Development Report (DR).
The guidelines are publicly released for information.
This concludes SCAP’s role in the process.
Stage 2 - Detailed assessment documents released
The proponent prepares an EIS, PER or DR that responds to the guidelines.
The length of time it takes for the proponent to prepare the assessment document is not set and varies depending on the level of assessment required and the complexity of the proposal. A DR generally takes the shortest time, while an EIS is more detailed and takes the longest.
Once complete, the assessment document is released for public and agency comment for a minimum of either:
- six weeks (EIS, PER)
- three weeks (DR).
The assessment documents are not the final document and are subject to change as a result of feedback received during public consultation.
Approval does not occur at this stage. This is a stage to enable the public to express their views on a proposal. All comments received during this period are considered in the assessment process.
Stage 3 - Responding to the public comment
After the public comment period, the proponent will prepare a response document (optional for a DR) that responds to all the comments raised during the public consultation period.
The response document may include:
- amendments to the assessment documents
- changes to the original proposal in response to issues that have been raised
- answer and/or clarification of issues raised.
The completed response document is made publicly available for information.
Stage 4 - Assessing the proposal
The Minister for Planning assesses the whole proposal and considers all the documentation produced - ie the assessment documents, public submissions and the response document - and produces an assessment report.
The assessment report is made publicly available for information.
The assessment report contains recommendations regarding the proposal, however, the proposal is still not approved at this stage.
Stage 5 - Decision
The Governor of South Australia makes a final decision after having regard to the assessment document(s), public submissions, response document, the minister’s assessment report and advice from Cabinet.
The decision may take a variety of forms including:
- approval with conditions.
Some matters may be reserved for a later decision.
There are no appeal rights against the decision of the Governor.