Land use planning is widely recognised as an effective and flexible tool through which local and state governments can consider and promote natural resource management matters in their decision-making processes. To improve the integration of natural resource management into land use planning, the EnviroPlanning project was developed, with the delivery focused on local government, in consultation with the natural resource management regions, relevant state government departments and interested community organisations.
The EnviroPlanning Project was initiated in late 2005 through a partnership between the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC), the former Department of Planning and Infrastructure (now the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage), and the Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA). The EnviroPlanning project was funded through the WA Strategic Reserve component of the Natural Heritage Trust Program (April 2006 - June 2009) and through the WA Natural Resource Management Program (July 2009 - October 2010).
The EnviroPlanning Project was completed in February 2011.
Major Outputs of the EnviroPlanning Project
Directions Paper on the Integration of NRM into Land Use Planning
The Directions Paper was prepared with the purpose of providing advice and recommendations to the WAPC for improving the integration of NRM into land use planning. The Directions Paper also serves to improve the understanding of Commonwealth, State and local government authorities and community NRM groups of the opportunities and limitations of the Western Australian land use planning system in achieving NRM outcomes. The draft paper was released for public comment in 2009. The finalisation of the Directions Paper involved consideration of feedback received during the public comment period as well as further consultation with the department and relevant NRM agencies. The Final Directions Paper was endorsed by the WAPC in May 2010.
Integrating NRM into Strategic Land Use Planning
Opportunities exist for integrating NRM at different levels in the land use planning hierarchy, through strategic and statutory planning processes at the state, regional and local levels. Planning and management of natural assets is often best undertaken at a scale that reflects their natural extent, for example, rivers are best planned for at the catchment scale. Regional planning provides the most appropriate scale for considering the natural extent and significance of environmental assets across a number of local governments, and provides direction for recognising and protecting those assets. Planning at the regional scale also enables the consideration of the cumulative impacts of future development on the environmental assets of a region, and the sharing of responsibility for protection and management across many stakeholders.
NRM considerations should be incorporated into the planning processes as early as possible, and reflected in later stages of planning. It can be difficult to achieve NRM outcomes through the subdivision and development of land unless they have been adequately addressed through earlier strategic (i.e. regional and local planning strategies) and statutory ( i.e. regional and local planning schemes and amendments) planning. Land that is already zoned for urban development is highly constrained in terms of opportunities to achieve NRM outcomes therefore early land use planning in peri-urban areas provides an important opportunity to achieve NRM outcomes.
Case Studies and Practice Notes on Integrating NRM into Local Planning Strategies and Schemes
EnviroPlanning has provided support to local governments for the integration of local biodiversity strategies into local planning strategies, schemes and structure plans. Case studies and practice notes provide 'best practice' examples of how NRM may be incorporated into strategies and schemes. The Local Planning Scheme is used to control and manage land use in a local government. The Scheme guides the WAPC's decision making in relation to applications for subdivision of land and guides local government’s decision making in relation to applications for development approval. Mechanisms that may assist achievement of NRM outcomes include reservation, zoning, special control areas, general scheme provisions that relate to zones and special provisions that relate to particular development areas.
Best practice examples of local biodiversity planning include:
Shire of Chittering