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Overlapping responsibilities in Condition of consents for music festivals

The entertainment and live music industry has undoubtedly taken the biggest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. To grapple with the economic fallout, the Federal Government announced a $250 million targeted package to help restart the creative, entertainment, arts and screen sectors.

As event organisers slowly formulate management plans, local councils will undoubtedly play a significant role to consult with other agencies to ensure a COVID-safe environment. The following case of NSW Commissioner of Police v Rabbits Eat Lettuce Pty Ltd [2019] NSWCA 182 is relevant as it demonstrates the complexities of having a condition of consent that involves multiple local agencies.

Background

In 2015, the Richmond Valley Council granted the applicant, Rabbits Eats Lettuce Pty Ltd (REL), temporary development consent to hold music festivals in Koppenduff (the Consent).

One of the conditions, which the Court found was unusual, stated:

Condition 7

 An event must not proceed if either New South Wales Police, New South Wales Rural Fire Service or Richmond Valley Council advises it is unsafe to do so.
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Universal 1919 Pty Ltd v 122 Pitt Street Pty Ltd [2020] NSWCA 50

The Court of Appeal recently considered and upheld a judicial review decision, Universal 1919 Pty Ltd v 122 Pitt Street Pty Ltd [2019] NSWLEC 117 (“Universal  1”). As a result, we now have a unanimous decision from the Court of Appeal of NSW that the statutory requirements found in Schedule 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 to afford procedural fairness to a recipient of a section 9.34 Notice are sufficient to exclude any remaining common law rights.

Universal 1 was a decision made by Justice Biscoe in the Class 4 jurisdiction of the Land and Environment Court, in relation to the validity of a Development Control Order No. 10, Restore Works Order issued under section 9.34 and 9.35 and Schedule 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (‘the Act’).

This case also deals with the validity of orders (pursuant to section 9.34) issued to an Owner of a building (the landlord), as opposed to an Occupier.
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Secretary, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment v Wollongong Recycling (NSW) Pty Ltd [2020] NSWLEC 125

The above case in the Land and Environment Court reminds us of the crucial role that investigators of a Public Authority, such as Council Officers, play in upholding the foundational principles and goals of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. The carrying out of development without consent or not in accordance with the consent undermines the objects of the Act, and Council Officers are usually the ones who bring this conduct to the attention of the Court.

 “People need to be aware that the offence of carrying out development not in accordance with development consent is a crime, that offenders will be prosecuted and that the Court will impose significant penalties on offenders”  Chief Justice Preston

Introduction

It may seem strange to some people that in today’s day and age where there are large scale campaigns to encourage more recycling by everyone, that an actual recycling plant should be penalized for recycling more than it is lawfully allowed to do on the site. However, the Land and Environment Court made such a decision recently in relation to an offence by a large recycling company operating in Wollongong.
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Clarity Regarding Council Entry to a Residential Premise

The recent decision of the Land and Environment Court in Bobolas v Waverly Council (No 2) [2020], the latest instalment of cases between Bobolas and Waverly Council (‘Council’), provides clarity as to the powers of entry possessed by councils onto residential land. This decision considered an application for judicial review challenging a section 22A order issued by Council is accordance to section 124 of the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW) (‘the Act’).

The order sought by Council on 29 January 2020 was to remove waste and refrain from collecting further waste at the property by 26 February 2020. Pursuant to section 124 of the Act, a section 22A order enables council to issue such an order ‘to remove or dispose of waste that is on any residential premises or to refrain from keeping waste on those premises’ if ‘the waste is causing or is likely to cause a threat to public health or the health of any individual’.
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Simone Brew appointed Managing Director of Matthews Folbigg Lawyers

1 September 2020

Matthews Folbigg Lawyers is delighted to announce the appointment of our new Managing Director, Simone Brew. Simone is the head of the firm’s Litigation, Planning and Local Government groups.

Matthews Folbigg Lawyers is the premier medium sized firm in Western Sydney, based in Parramatta, with 8 practice groups and over 60 lawyers and legal service professionals. This is the first time in the firm’s 60 year history that the firm has had a female Managing Director. Even more notably the firm is owned 50% by our experienced female lawyers.

Chairman of Matthews Folbigg Lawyers, Jeff Brown said “Matthews Folbigg is delighted to announce Simone’s appointment as Managing Director. She has been an integral part of the firm’s Executive group for many years and in particular has been instrumental in leading the firm’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is just one example of the strengths that make her qualified to lead our firm into the future”.
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Difficulties due to COVID-19 not an excuse to vacate a hearing date

A recent decision in the Land and Environment Court to set aside a Registrar’s order that a three-day hearing be set aside substantially due to the difficulties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the Court’s willingness to facilitate the continuation of hearings, where appropriate, despite the difficulties associated with virtual hearings.

In DVCI Pty Ltd v City of Parramatta Council [2020] NSWLEC 31, during a general call over of all matters pursuant to the Court’s adoption of the COVID-19 Pandemic Arrangements Policy, the solicitor for the City of Parramatta Council sought an order that the hearing the subject of the Class 1 Appeal, scheduled to take place in May 2020, be vacated.

The hearing was scheduled to be heard before Acting Commissioner Bindon, who had, as part of the section 34 process, attended the subject site and heard submissions from nearby residents. Council argued that the hearing should be vacated as it was necessary for all relevant parties to attend the site as part of the hearing, which would be difficult in the current climate. Further, Council had only recently retained a planning expert who had not yet attended the site, and was unwilling to go the site due to COVID-19. Despite submissions from the developer as to the prejudice to the developer if the hearing was vacated, and a submission that the matter should proceed by way of audio-visual link due to the fact that Acting Commissioner Bindon had already attended the site and heard from residents, the Registrar ultimately made the decision to vacate the hearing date.
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State Government Regulations: Public Meeting and Hearing Restrictions

With restrictions on physical interaction during the COVID-19 pandemic, the State Government has implemented the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (COVID-19 Planning Bodies) Regulation 2020 (COVID Regulation). The COVID Regulation which was put into action on 25 March 2020 requires the holding of public meetings and public hearings by planning bodies to be held through electronic means. These include:

  1. By way of audio link or audio visual link; and
  2. In a means that permits it to be heard or viewed electronically by members of the public whilst the meeting or hearing is being held.

The COVID Regulation applies to:

  • Local planning panels;
  • Regional planning panels;
  • District planning panels;
  • The Independent Planning Commission;
  • Any other panels established by the Planning Secretary or Minister under section 2.3 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EPA Act).

Such meetings or hearings must be held live and available to the public, and thus is not permitted to record the meeting or hearing and subsequently make the recording publicly available. Under clause 294(6) of the EPA Regulation, a person who is required to attend the public hearing or meeting satisfies the requirement by participating by way of audio or audio visual input, in contrast to attending in person.
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Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 Repeal Postponed

The Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulations 2000 (NSW)(EP&A Reg) has been delayed in its repeal and replacement on 1 March 2021, pushing the date back a year to the 1 March 2022. This delay allows appropriate consultation time for further reviewing of the provisions and preparing a replacement regulation once the pandemic has subsided.

The current requirements in the EP&A Reg will continue to apply for an additional 12 months – but what does this mean?

 Changes to lapsing dates for Development Consents and Deferred Commencement Consents

All lapsing dates have changed for development consents and deferred commencement consents. They have been changed so that:

  • Both consents granted within the 2 year period from 25 March 2020 will have a five-year lapsing period that cannot be reduced,
  • Consents granted prior to 25 March 2020 that have not already lapsed will be extended by 2 years, and
  • The lapsing date has been extended for 2 years consents that have lapsed since 25 March 2020.
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