The South Australian Development Act 1993 and Development Regulations 2008 set out the processes for obtaining development approval.
The Development Act 1993 provides three pathways to development approval:
- through the local council
- as public infrastructure
- as a major development.
Most windfarm project developers have taken this path.
As a developer, you’ll have to apply for development approval from the council within which your site is located.
The council will consult the Environment Protection Agency and other relevant resource protection agencies, landholders and the community for feedback.
The council’s assessment panel will decide whether your application meets criteria including visual impact and neighbour nuisance.
Third parties and applicants may be able to appeal the decision, depending on the scale of the project and the zoning of the site. For example, a project may be exempt from public notice if it’s considered minor or if it’s located on industrial land.
If an appeal is lodged by either an applicant or a third party when a project is notified, the appeal court would be guided by Development Plans in making its decision.
Most wind farm developers have taken this path.
The public infrastructure (previously known as the ‘Crown Development’) process covers projects considered to be significant infrastructure for the state’s development.
This is the process used by government agencies and by private developers with projects sponsored by government agencies. The State Commission Assessment Panel (SCAP) will assess the application and report to the Minister for Urban Development and Planning for approval within three months of the application’s lodgement.
There are no appeal rights.
If DAC considers that an application contradicts the intent of the relevant Development Plan, or where the Council opposes a development, but the Minister approves the project, the Minister must report that approval to Parliament for noting.
This process is streamlined, relatively short (time lines are prescribed) and there are no third-party appeal opportunities.
The South Australian Government makes available case management services to help investors negotiate native title, vegetation, water, road and infrastructure, and other issues.
Two wind farm and transmission infrastructure investors have used this pathway.
Under Section 46 of the Development Act 1993, the Minister for Urban Development and Planning can declare a proposed development a ‘major development’ if the proposal is considered to be of major economic, social or environmental importance to the State.
This declaration triggers a thorough state-run assessment process with opportunity for public comment before approval is given or denied.
The assessment process has five stages:
- referral of the development application to the SCAP to set the detailed assessment level (see below) and issuing assessment guidelines
- the investor prepares an assessment document and issues it for a mandatory period of public and agency comment (no set time)
- the investor responds to the public and agency comment (no set time)
- the Minister assesses the proposal and issues an assessment report
- a decision by the Governor.
The SCAP may require:
- an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS): for the most complex proposals – released for public comment for at least six weeks and a public meeting is required
- a Public Environmental Report (PER): if an in-depth investigation is required within a narrow scope, or where existing information is available – minimum of six weeks’ public comment and a public meeting is required
- a Development Report (DR): the least complex level of assessment, which relies mainly on existing information – three weeks’ public comment required.
There are no appeal rights against the Governor’s decision.
For more information about the development application process can be obtained from the SA Planning Portal managed by the Department of Planning , Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI).
Other legislative requirements
Investors should be aware that other Commonwealth and South Australian legislation may affect your applications.