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Key Guidance

Hazards and Risks

Assessment of chemical, biological and chemical hazards and risks

Hazards and risks include chemical, biological, or physical agents that have potential negative impacts on the economy, environment and community. There is a wide range of hazards and risks to be considered as part of environmental impact assessment for State significant projects. These are the responsibility of different government agencies and have different policies that are provided for below.


Negative impacts associated with animal and plant pests, diseases and contaminants pose risks to the economy, environment and community. The Department of Primary Industries coordinates the aim to prevent, eliminate and minimise biosecurity risks.

NSW Biosecurity Strategy 2013-2021

This Strategy outlines the best strategies and different roles everyone can play in the effectively mitigating, managing or reporting of potential Biosecurity threats.

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Land identified as bush fire prone may require bush fire protection measures and compliance with specific development standards. The following guideline should be considered in assessing bushfire risks of State significant projects.

Planning for bushfire protection

Provides and explains the legal requirements, framework and protection measures needed for all types of development on bush fire-prone land in NSW. It is used as a guide for councils, planners, fire authorities, and developers.

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The bush fire prone land online mapping tool

Coastal hazards

Coastal hazards arise from coastal processes. These Coastal Hazards include beach erosion, shoreline recession, watercourse entrance instability, coastal and tidal inundation and coastal cliff instability.

Coastal Management Framework

The Framework below is a resource from the DPE to support councils through the Coastal management process.

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There are potential risks from dam failure to public welfare and environmental and economic assets. The NSW Dams Safety Committee responsible for developing and implementing regulation for effective dam safety management to protect life, property and the environment from dam failures. The following guidance should be considered when assessing risk of dam failure associated with a State significant project.

Dams Safety Committee guidance sheets

The NSW Dams Safety Committee (DSC) is the NSW regulator for dam safety. It is responsible for developing and implementing regulation for effective dam safety management to protect life, property and the environment from dam failures. These sheets provide guidance and assistance to all dam owners and stakeholders.

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Dangerous goods

Dangerous goods are substances and objects that pose acute risks to people, property and the environment due to their chemical or physical characteristics. The codes below are the responsibility of the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, the Minister for the Environment, and the National Transport Commission. They should be considered when assessing the risks of dangerous goods associated with State significant projects.

Australian Dangerous Goods Code

The purpose of the Australian Dangerous Goods Code (ADG Code) is to provide consistent technical requirements for the land transport of dangerous goods across Australia. It should be read in conjunction with the Dangerous Goods (Road and Rail Transport) Act 2008.

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Environmental hazards

Environmental hazards result from chemical, biological, or physical agents either from ongoing or previous human activity, or the hazard may be a property present in the natural environment. This type of hazard poses a risk to either human health or to the natural environment.

Environmental Health Risk Assessment

This is a guidance risk assessment document produced by Environmental Health Australia. They advocate environmental health issues and represent the professional interests of all environmental health practitioners in Australia.

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Flooding risks arise from rainfall and coastal processes leading to a rise in water levels inundating infrastructure, land and property. The guidelines below are resources from the DPE to support councils through the floodplain risk management process.

Flood Risk Management Guideline - Practical Consideration of Climate Change

This guideline highlights climate change impacts on flood behaviour and offers floodplain risk management recommendations for Councils and stakeholders.

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Floodplain Development Manual: The management of flood liable land

The NSW Flood Prone Land Policy is set out in the Floodplain Development Manual. The Manual provides guidance to local government in managing flood risk in their communities.

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Floodplain Development Manual Update

The draft Flood Risk Management Manual Package updates the Floodplain Development Manual and a number of the existing technical guides. The Manual update includes new guidance for Flood Impact and Risk Assessment (FIRA) – which is the likely guide for assessment in the planning processes.

View the Manual update

Floodplain Risk Management Guidelines

The risk management guidelines provide further technical guidance and extra support for councils to prepare and implement floodplain risk management plans.

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Flood Impact and Risk Assessment: Flood Risk Management Guide

A fit for purpose flood impact and risk assessment can examine flood constraints and how to manage the flood risks posed to and by new development.

This guide provides advice on the scope and scale of a flood impact and risk assessment. It does not replace the processes or requirements of the consent authority. It should be read in conjunction with and address any other assessment requirements for the development proposal/application.

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Groundwater contamination

Contaminated groundwater can pose risks to human health, the environment, and the types of land uses that may safely be carried out. The following legislation and guidance assists in the management of contaminated water associated with State significant projects.

Guidelines for the assessment and management of groundwater contamination

This is a best-practice framework guideline for assessing, managing and cleaning up contaminated groundwater.

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Hazardous and offensive development

Hazardous industries pose potentially significant risk to human health, property or the environment.  Offensive development may emit a polluting discharge with significant adverse impact in the locality or on likely future development. The following guidance assists in the management of hazardous and/or offensive State significant development.

Hazardous and Offensive Development Application Guidelines

This guideline assists councils and proponents in establishing whether a development proposal would fit into the Resilience and Hazard SEPP policy of ‘potentially hazardous industry’ or ‘potentially offensive industry definitions and hence, come under the provisions of the policy.

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Multi-level risk assessment

These guidelines are intended to assist industry, consultants and consent authorities in NSW to carry out and evaluate risk assessments at an appropriate level.

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Hazardous industry planning advisory papers (paper no. 6)

This document provides guidance on the general approach recommended for hazard analysis. It explains the hazard analysis process and details the requirements for reports to be submitted to government authorities.

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Land contamination

Land contamination can occur when there is a presence of a substance at an elevated concentration above the normal concentration in the same locality. Such contamination can pose a risk of harm to human health or any other aspect of the environment. The following policies and guidance assist in the management of land contamination associated with State significant projects.

Guidelines on the Duty to Report Land Contamination

This guideline relates to the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 (CLM Act) only, and the reporting of land contamination requirements now legally required under section 60 of the Act.

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National environment protection (assessment of site contamination) measure

The National Environment Protection Council is responsible for the creation of protection measures which are a special set of national objectives designed to assist in protecting or managing particular aspects of the environment. This measure sets the national guidelines for assessing site contamination.

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Land movement

Land instability can result from landslides or landslips or effects of subsidence and pose a risk to safety, property, water quality and the environment in general. The following policy and guidance should be considered when assessing the risks of land movement associated with State significant projects.

Landslide risk management concepts and guidelines

Produced by the Australian Geomechanics Society, this guideline explains the process and limitations of Landslide Risk Management in Australia, whilst providing an updated methodology for landslide risk analysis, evaluation and treatments.

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Geotechnical policy – Kosciuszko alpine resorts

This policy relates specifically to Kosciuszko alpine resorts and addresses structural and geotechnical requirements relating to geotechnical issues.

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Waste can be considered as any substance that is discharged in the environment in a manner that causes an alteration or has been left or discarded. State significant projects that are involved in the management, disposal, transportation or processing of waste, or have potential to generate waste, are assessed using the following policies and guidelines to ensure there is no threat to human health or life.

Waste classification guidelines

Produced by the EPA, these guidelines provide a step-by-step process for classifying waste into categories.

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Guidance for managing industrial waste

This provides guidance for managing industrial waste by outlining what the general regulatory requirements relating to waste may be, highlighting where additional regulatory requirements may apply.

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Solid waste landfills guideline

These guidelines provide guidance for the environmental management of landfills in NSW by specifying a series of ‘minimum standards’. They involve a mix of design and construction techniques, effective site operations, monitoring and reporting protocols, and post-closure management.

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Composting and related organics processing facilities guideline

These guidelines outline how to turn organics into useful and safe products, without causing harm to the environment, by providing recommendations on appropriate environmental management of organic processing facilities.

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NSW energy from waste policy statement

This statement sets out the policy framework and overarching criteria that apply to facilities in NSW proposing to thermally treat waste or waste-derived materials for the recovery of energy and in doing so provides regulatory clarity to industry and the community

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Plume rise assessments advisory circular

This advisory circular provides information for proponents of facilities generating exhaust plumes, land use planning authorities as well as aircraft and airport operators. This advice is produced by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

View the advisory circular


Last updated: 14/07/2023