Under Section 5.25 of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act), the proponent of an approved State significant infrastructure (SSI) or Critical State significant infrastructure (CSSI) project may request the Minister to modify the approval at any time.
These modifications may be necessary to improve the design of the project or to vary the conditions of approval.
The modification process will vary depending on the scale and nature of the proposed modifications.
Click below for a summary of the modification process.
Prior to lodging a modification request (MR), the proponent must consult with the Department.
The purpose of this consultation is to clarify the assessment process, identify what information must be included in the Modification Report, and determine what (if any) community engagement must be undertaken during the preparation of the Modification Report.
Following consultation, the Department may issue environmental assessment requirements for the Modification Report. However, this is only likely to occur more complex modifications.
Prepare Modification Report
The proponent must prepare the Modification Report in accordance with any requirements issued by the Department.
The purpose of the Modification Report is to assess the economic, environmental and social impacts of the proposed modifications and to help the community, government agencies and the approval authority make informed submissions or decisions on the merits of these modifications.
The scope of the Modification Report will vary depending on the scale and nature of the modifications, and whether further community engagement is required.
The Modification Report should:
- include a short description of the approved SSI or CSSI project and the reasons why the modifications are required
- describe the proposed modifications
- explain the relevant strategic and statutory context
- describe the findings of any community engagement
- assess the relevant impacts of the modifications
- evaluate the merits of the modification.
The Modification Report must be easy to understand, rigorous and as succinct as possible.
Once complete, the proponent must lodge the Modification Report online.
The Department will check the Modification Report before publishing it online.
Exhibit Modification Report
Under the EP&A Act, the Department has the discretion to exhibit and seek submissions on a Modification Report.
When the Department decides whether to exhibit a Modification Report, it will consider several factors including:
- the scale and nature of the modifications
- the likely impacts of the modifications
- the likely level of community interest in the modifications.
If exhibition occurs, the Department will generally exhibit the Modification Report for 14 days but may increase this period for more complex modifications to up to 28 days.
For exhibition, the Department will publish the MR and Modification Report online and may notify and advertise the exhibition period.
During the exhibition period, anyone can make a written submission on the MR.
People can also subscribe for updates on the progress of the MR.
Respond to Submissions
If the Modification Report is exhibited, the Department will publish all submissions online and ask the proponent to prepare a Submissions Report.
The purpose of the Submissions Report is to give the proponent an opportunity to respond to the issues raised in submissions and help the approval authority to evaluate the merits of the MA.
Once complete, the proponent must lodge the Submissions Report online.
Assess Modification Request
After publishing the Submissions Report, the Department will complete its assessment of the merits of the proposed modifications in accordance with Government legislation, policies and guidelines and prepare an Assessment Report.
While the scope of this assessment will vary depending on the scale and nature of the proposed modifications, the activities involved are likely to be similar to those involved in assessing an SSI project.
Once complete, the Department will ask the approval authority to determine the MR.
Determine Modification Request
The Minister for Planning is the approval authority for all MRs, but has delegated this function to senior officers in the Department where:
- the local council has not objected to the MR
- less than 25 submitters objected to the MR
- the proponent has not made a reportable political donation.
Approval authorities must evaluate the merits of the MR and may approve the MR (with or without conditions) or disapprove of it.
After the determination of the MR, the Department will:
- publish the decision online
- notify the proponent
- give public notice of the decision and how community views were taken into account in making the decision.
Under the EP&A Act, decisions on MRs are not subject to merit appeal.
However, anyone can seek a judicial review of the decisions on an MR within 3 months of the public notice of the determination. These proceedings will be heard by a judge of the Land and Environment Court and will consider the legality or validity, not the merits, of the decision.