NSW Department of Planning and Environment

A new approach to considering the impacts of major projects on people will be adopted by the NSW Government, to ensure consistency and better outcomes for the community.


The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s Strategic Executive Director, Felicity Greenway, said the Social Impact Assessment Guideline will support faster assessment timelines by making sure communities are engaged upfront on potential impacts of a proposal.


“We expect developers to involve the community early on in their plans, ensuring impacts on communities from all State-significant projects are given as much consideration as the environmental and economic aspects,” Ms Greenway said.


“These projects support jobs, enable more housing and build the infrastructure we need to connect our towns and cities, but we recognise they can have impacts on local people who live nearby.
“Underestimating the social impacts of a project can result in cost blow-outs and cause delays, either in the assessment process or in construction.


“The guideline will further enable communities to be involved from the earliest stage of the process.”


The updated guideline includes actions to put community at the heart of planning, such as:

  • Early consultation with the community while developing a proposal;
  • Ensuring potentially affected people are aware of plans and have a chance to be involved in its development;
  • Understanding and considering the livelihood and wellbeing of Aboriginal communities beyond cultural impacts; and
  • Removing the need for a one-size-fits all approach, so the assessment is proportionate to the social impacts of a project.


This updated guideline is part of the NSW Government’s suite of planning reforms to instil more transparency, timeliness and certainty in the planning system, and boost the NSW economy as we move toward recovery after COVID19.


The updated guideline already applies to State-significant mining, and petroleum production and extractive industry developments will now be applied to all other major projects.


For more information and to read the guideline visit planningportal.nsw.gov.au/Social-Impact-Assessment