NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Environment zones

Environment zones are being renamed as ‘conservation zones’

What we are doing

The NSW Government is renaming the ‘environment zones’ to ‘conservation zones’ under clause 2.1 Land use zones of the Standard Instrument – Principal Local Environmental Plans.

The new conservation zones will be:

  • Zone C1 – National Parks and Nature Reserves
  • Zone C2 – Environmental Conservation
  • Zone C3 – Environmental Management
  • Zone C4 – Environmental Living.

The objectives and land use tables remain the same across all zones. Only the prefix and zone category are changing.

How we will make the change

The change will be given effect through the Standard Instrument (Local Environmental Plans) Amendment (Land Use Zones) Order 2021. Councils will not need to update their local environmental plans to reflect the new zone names. Note that this change will not amend any other land use zones such as the employment zones.

The change will commence on 1 December.

Why we are making this change?

The name ‘environment zone’ is too broad and is open to multiple interpretations, which can cause confusion about the purpose and intent of the zone.

By renaming these zones to reflect the ‘conservation’ land use function more clearly, the focus, purpose, and intent of these zones is clearly signalled. The purpose is to conserve the environmental values and natural qualities in areas where this land use zoning is applied. The naming also aligns better with the objectives of the zones as being about conservation.

What does this mean for the current environment zones?

This change is purely administrative and of name only. Land uses that are currently permitted and prohibited in the environment zones will continue once they are renamed conservation zones. Only the name of zones is changing.

Support for councils

The department recognises the work councils do in implementing planning reforms. To support councils in transitioning to the new zone names, we will provide advice directly to councils on updating documentation and informing landholders of the change.

More information

For more information, please:

New approach to environmental zoning on the Far North Coast

Please note that following the making of Standard Instrument (Local Environmental Plans) Amendment (Land Use Zones) Order 2021 the reference to an environment protection zone in the Northern Councils E Zone Review Final Recommendations Report should be taken to be a reference to a conservation zone. This name change does not alter the recommendations of the Northern councils E Zone review.

The department has developed a new approach to environmental zoning on the Far North Coast to support farming and protect the environment.

The Northern Councils E Zone Review Final Recommendations Report aims to provide greater certainty for landowners, councils and the community on how environmental zoning will be applied.

Environment zones - or 'E zones' - are designed to protect land that is of important environmental value. The Final Recommendations Report ensures that environmental zones are applied to places on the Far North Coast where the 'primary use' of the land justifies either environmental conservation ('E2') or environmental management ('E3') zoning, based on validated ecological evidence. The ‘primary use’ of the land - the main use for which the land has been used for the last two years - is to be the first consideration when making zoning decisions.

The final recommendations take into account the views expressed by councils, agencies, community organisations, landowners and the general public in more than 400 submissions we received during the public consultation on the interim report in 2014.


Page last updated: 01/03/2023