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Development and Assessment

State Significant Infrastructure

Development of a large scale, economic value or that carries potential social or environmental impacts can be deemed to have State significance.

State significant infrastructure

Under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act), projects can be declared State significant development (SSD) if they are important to the State for economic, environmental or social reasons. 

A development is considered significant to the State if it is over a certain size, is in an environmentally sensitive area or will exceed capital investment value. 

Examples of SSD include: 

  • new education facilities, hospitals and correctional centres
  • chemical industries
  • manufacturing facilities
  • mining and extraction operations
  • tourist and recreation facilities
  • some port facilities
  • waste management facilities
  • energy generating facilities.

The above infrastructure types are considered State significant if it is above a certain size or capital investment value or is in a sensitive environmental location.

Development on identified sites, including the Sydney Opera House and Olympic Park, can also be considered State significant. 

Instances of State significant development are listed in Chapter 2, Schedule 1 and Schedule 2, of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Planning Systems) 2021.

Certain SSI projects can be declared as critical State significant infrastructure (CSSI) if they are determined as essential to the State by the Minister for Planning.

Some examples of CSSI are:

  • Pacific Highway Upgrade
  • WestConnex
  • Snowy 2.0
  • Sydney Metro Rail.

The Declaration of SSI and CSSI (2021) guide sets out the general principles and key reasons for the Minister to declare development as SSI or CSSI.

Who determines State significant development applications?

The department prepares a detailed government-wide assessment report on the merits of an SSD project for the consent authority. 

SSD projects are assessed under Division 4.7 of the EP&A Act and require development consent from the Independent Planning Commission or the Minister for Planning (or delegate) before proceeding.

The Independent Planning Commission is the consent authority for SSD applications if the applicant is not a public authority and:

  • the local council has made a submission objecting to the application,
  • the department has received 50 or more public objections in response to the exhibition of the application (petitions and submissions that contain substantially the same text count as one objection), or
  • the applicant has made a reportable political donation.

The Minister is the consent authority for all other SSD applications. In some cases, the Minister may delegate his decision-making function to department staff.

State Significant Infrastructure Guidelines

The State Significant Development Guidelines provide a detailed explanation of the SSD process and set out clear expectations about the quality of environmental assessment documentation.

The EP&A Regulation requires SSD applicants to have regard to the guidelines when requesting Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs), preparing EISs, responding to submissions, amending applications, and seeking to modify SSD consents.

For further information on the guidelines visit the NSW Planning website.

SSI Projects 

Find out more about how projects are classified as SSI or CSSI and the different types of SSI projects

Read more

SSI Process

Find out more about how the merits of SSI projects are assessed before a final decision is made.

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SSI Modifications

Find out more about how SSI approvals can be modified

Read more
Last updated: 14/03/2024