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Strengthening Social Impact Assessment


The Department of Planning and Environment is exploring ways to strengthen the quality and consistency of social impact assessments of State significant projects.


The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 requires the social impacts of a State significant project to be assessed and considered as part of the development assessment process. However, unlike for economic and environmental impacts, the Government does not currently provide guidance on how this should be done. This guidance gap was identified by stakeholders as a particular issue for State significant mining, petroleum production and extractive industry development (State significant resource projects).


In response, the Department is developing social impact assessment guidelines for State significant resource projects. Draft guidelines were released for a 12 week consultation period on 8 December 2016:


Social impact assessment – Draft guidelines for State Significant mining, petroleum production and extractive industry development (PDF 456KB)


Frequently Asked Questions (PDF 348KB)


Submissions on the draft guidelines closed on 3 March 2017.


Next steps


The Department is currently considering the submissions received and the feedback provided at the community information sessions held earlier this year in Mudgee, Singleton, Gunnedah and Wollongong. This feedback will help the Department finalise the social impact assessment guidelines for State significant resource projects. The Department will also prepare and publish a report summarising the feedback received during the consultation period.


It should be noted that the Department is concurrently reviewing the environmental impact assessment process for State significant projects in NSW (the EIA Improvement Project). The final guidelines will contribute to, and align with, the improvements under consideration as part of that project. For further information about the EIA Improvement Project see: Legislation/Environmental-impact-assessment-improvement-project.


Once the draft guidelines are finalised, the Department will consider extending the new framework to other major project categories (e.g. State significant infrastructure).

Page last updated: 08/03/2017