A2 - Overview


The Directorate brings together key ACT Government policy and service delivery areas responsible for climate change, heritage, environment protection, building and planning policy, transport policy and development, creating enormous opportunities for the sustainable development of the ACT.

During 2012–13, ESDD continued to provide the Minister and ACT Government with strategic advice on planning and transport policy, service delivery and whole-of-government environmental and sustainability issues.

More specifically, ESDD demonstrated significant achievements across all policy and regulatory areas. See Section A3 for more information.

ESDD prepared and/or released the:

  • ACT Planning Strategy
  • Weathering the Change Action Plan 2
  • Pest Animal Management Strategy
  • National Energy Customer Framework
  • Carbon Neutral Government Fund
  • ACT Nature Conservation Strategy
  • Draft new water strategy
  • Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme
  • Tidbinbilla Plan of Management 2012

ESDD revised and developed legislation across a wide range of fronts, including:

  • National Energy Retail Law (ACT) Act 2012
  • National Energy Retail Law (Consequential Amendments) Act 2012
  • Planning and Development (Territory Plan Variations) Amendment Act 2013
  •  Planning, Building and Environment Legislation Amendment Act 2013

Master plans were finalised for:

  • Tuggeranong Town Centre
  • Kambah group centre
  • Erindale group centre.

Master plans in progress included:

  • City centre
  • Woden Town Centre, Athllon Drive (Mawson) and Mawson group centre
  • Weston group centre
  • Pialligo
  • Oaks Estate
  • Tharwa.

Review of land use policies contained in the Territory Plan continued in response to changing land use pressures. The following Territory Plan variations came into effect:

  • 311 (Dickson group centre)
  • 312 (Hume West)
  • 313 (Calvary Hospital car park)
  • 315 (Emergency services centre, Aranda)
  • 316 (Emergency services centre, Calwell/Conder)

In addition, 25 technical amendments to the Territory Plan were developed and came into effect.

A range of complex development applications with a construction value in excess of $1.4 billion were successfully managed. Accountability indicators for development assessment continued to be substantially met or exceeded. Internal and national benchmarking of development assessment ranks the ACT as one of the most efficient in the country. The eDevelopment platform continues to prove its value, enabling development applications (DAs) to be lodged online through the eDevelopment portal.

Planning and direction setting framework

Diagrams 1 and 2 show the planning framework and direction-setting mechanisms in use within the Directorate:

Diagram 1 outlines the processes undertaken by the Directorate as a public sector organisation in receipt of government funding. It reflects the Directorate’s obligation to regularly report on outcomes, activities and expenses in delivering services.

Diagram 1: Planning and reporting framework

Diagram 2 illustrates the central role of the Planning and Development Act 2007 and the Ministerial Statement of Planning Intent in the Directorate’s role in delivering planning and development outcomes.

Diagram 2: Components of the planning and development system (in relation to activities undertaken under formal planning legislation)

Organisational environment

ESDD’s operating environment is complex and dynamic. This reflects the constantly and, at times, rapidly changing face of the city and Territory and the growth in its population. The demands made for innovative and effective policy responses across the Directorate’s portfolio of responsibilities add to that complexity.

The Directorate’s Executive Management Board provides key direction and leadership through its role in considering and setting policies and standards across the full range of operational and governance matters (see Section C5).

Similarly, the Executive Policy Committee provides a high level overview of policy directions associated with the more significant and strategic matters (see Section C5).

ESDD works with, and in support of, an extensive range of interest groups. While all sectors of the community are major stakeholders, the Directorate works particularly closely with other ACT Government service agencies and Australian Government organisations, particularly the National Capital Authority, to fulfil its roles and responsibilities.

ESDD is committed to ensuring community consultation. Participation in its decision making processes is a serious obligation that is pursued constantly. Public education and understanding of the Directorate’s activities and processes, including provision of easily accessible public information and documentation, is constantly pursued. The Directorate engages with the ACT community in many ways, not only to meet statutory requirements but because effective strategic planning and policy development must recognise and respond to the views, concerns and aspirations of the broader community.

Organisational change

The organisational change required to bring together the key ACT Government areas responsible for sustainable development in the Territory was completed during the year. The consolidation of the Directorate in one main location, in order to facilitate and take the best advantage of the synergies between the areas, was integral to this organisational change.

Accommodation changes to bring the different sections of the Directorate together were finalised during the year, with parts of ESDD that had been housed with other directorates moving to Dame Pattie Menzies House (DPMH) in Dickson. ESDD is now accommodated principally in DPMH, with a customer service outlet in Mitchell and the Conservation Policy Research team continuing to be based at facilities at Crace leased from CSIRO.

Administration of legislation

Administrative Arrangements 2013 (No 1) allocated responsibility for administration of the following legislation to ESDD:

Architects Act 2004 and Architects Regulation 2004

This legislation:

  • establishes a board to regulate the provision of architectural services by architects
  • ensures architects provide services to the public professionally and competently
  • provides ways to discipline architects who are found to have acted unprofessionally or incompetently
  • ensures the public has access to information about the qualifications and competence of architects
  • establishes a register of architects to provide that information.

Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988 (Cwlth), ss. 16, 19, 25 and 29 and Part 10

This Act sets out the dual Commonwealth and Territory responsibilities for the planning of the ACT and management of land. It dates to the start of self-government in the ACT, when the National Capital Development Commission was replaced. The Act establishes the NCA and the National Capital Plan, and similarly provides for the establishment of a Territory planning authority and Territory Plan. It addresses the management of national and Territory land.

Building Act 2004 and Building (General) Regulation 2008

This legislation regulates buildings (residential and commercial structures) and building work (work in relation to the erection, alteration or demolition of a building, including disposal of waste materials generated). It deals with plans and associated approvals, inspection processes, offences, statutory warranties, codes, standards and insurance.

Building and Construction Industry (Security of Payment) Act 2009

This Act facilitates recovery of payments under construction contracts in the building and construction industry, and for other purposes.

Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act 2010

This Act promotes the development of policies and practices to address climate change, sets targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provides for monitoring and reporting in relation to the targets.

Clinical Waste Act 1990

This Act relates to the treatment, storage, transportation and disposal of clinical waste.

Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment Act 1993

This Act establishes the Office of Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment, and provides for related matters. The Commissioner’s office operates independently of the Directorate; however, the Directorate provides staffing, human resources and financial management support to the office of the Commissioner.

Common Boundaries Act 1981

This Act deals with Crown lessees' obligations in respect of basic fences, including basic rural and urban fences, as well as obligations in relation to party walls.

Community Title Act 2001 and Community Title Regulation 2002

This legislation concerns each Crown lessee’s respective rights and obligations under a community title scheme. It also deals with the endorsement and registration of a community title scheme, the transfer of property title under a registered community title scheme, the amalgamation and termination of registered community title schemes, and the setting up, functions and by-laws of a body corporate.

Construction Occupations (Licensing) Act 2004 and Construction Occupations (Licensing) Regulation 2004

This legislation provides a framework for:

  • licensing and regulating construction occupations
  • investigating and imposing sanctions upon licensees who act in a manner contrary to that proscribed by legislation
  • issuing rectification orders in cases of work undertaken in contravention of the relevant legislation.

The Act regulates the occupations of asbestos assessors, asbestos removalists, builders, building surveyors (also called building certifiers), drainers, electricians, gasfitters, plumbers and plumbing plan certifiers. The Act also establishes the statutory position of Registrar of Construction Occupations, which is responsible for administering the Act and its operational Acts, these being the Building Act 2004, Dangerous Substances Act 2004, Electricity Safety Act 1971, Gas Safety Act 2000, Utilities Act 2000, and Water and Sewerage Act 2000.

Districts Act 2002

This Act allows the Minister to subdivide the Territory into blocks, sections, divisions (suburbs) and districts. The planning and land authority, in conjunction with the Commissioner for Surveys, allocates a street number to each block and maintains a database of information about land.

Electricity Feed-in (Large-scale Renewable Energy Generation) Act 2011

This Act makes provision for the large-scale generation of electricity from renewable energy sources, and other matters.

Electricity Feed-in (Renewable Energy Premium) Act 2008

This Act is concerned with the supply of electricity from solar and other renewable energy sources to electricity distributors, and other related matters.

Electricity (National Scheme) Act 1997

This Act makes provision for the operation of a national electricity market, and other related matters. This legislation was repealed by the Planning, Building and Environment Legislation Amendment Act 2013 on 22 May 2013.

Electricity Safety Act 1971 and Electricity Safety Regulation 1971

This legislation ensures electrical safety, particularly in relation to:

  • the installation, testing, reporting and rectification of electrical wiring work for an electrical installation and its connection to the electricity distribution network (the Wiring Rules are the relevant standard)
  • the regulation and dealings associated with the sale of prescribed and non-prescribed articles of electrical equipment
  • the reporting, investigation and recording of serious electrical accidents by responsible entities
  • enforcement by ACTPLA and its electrical inspectors (including inspectors’ identification, entry powers, seizing evidence, disconnection of unsafe installations and articles, powers to collect verbal and physical evidence and respondents’ rights)
  • the appeals system
  • miscellaneous matters such as certification of evidence.

Enclosed Lands Protection Act 1943

This Act relates to the protection of enclosed lands from intrusion and trespass.

Energy Efficiency (Cost of Living) Improvement Act 2012

The objects of this Act are to encourage the efficient use of energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with stationary energy use, reduce household and business energy use and costs and increase opportunities for priority (low-income) households to reduce energy use and costs in the Territory.

Environment Protection Act 1997 and Environment Protection Regulation 2005

This legislation provides for the protection of the environment, the establishment of an Environment Protection Authority and related matters.

Fisheries Act 2000 and Fisheries Regulation 2001

This legislation provides for the management of fisheries. The objects of the Fisheries Act 2000 are to conserve native fish species and their habitats, manage the fisheries of the ACT in a sustainable way, provide high quality and viable recreational fishing and to cooperate with other jurisdictions in sustaining fisheries and protecting native fish species.

Gas Safety Act 2000 and Gas Safety Regulation 2001

This legislation establishes a framework to ensure the safety of gas appliances and consumer piping systems and, in turn, consumer safety. The Act:

  • addresses the legal responsibilities of gasfitters, gas appliance workers and consumers
  • contains reporting requirements and deals with serious gas accidents
  • establishes the planning and land authority as the regulator with powers to direct gas fitters, consumers and traders; the regulator has the ability to test appliances, to cancel approvals of appliances and to ensure that traders sell only approved appliances.

Hemp Fibre Industry Facilitation Act 2004

This Act deals the cultivation of hemp for certain commercial uses, and other related purposes.

Heritage Act 2004 and Heritage Regulation 2005

This legislation provides for the recognition, registration and conservation of places and objects of natural and cultural significance.

Lakes Act 1976

This Act provides for the administration, control and use of certain lakes.

Lands Acquisition Act 1994 and Lands Acquisition Regulation 1999

This Act deals with the acquisition of leased land by the Territory for a public purpose. It also covers the Territory’s powers of entry and occupation of land to be acquired for that public purpose and outlines the acquisition procedures and the scope of the compensation payable for such acquisition of interests in land.

National Energy Retail Law (ACT) Act 2012 and National Energy Retail Law (ACT) Regulation 2012

This legislation adopts the National Energy Retail Law in the Territory. The National Energy Retail Law establishes a national energy customer framework for the regulation of the retail supply of energy to customers and regulates the relationship between the distributors of energy and the consumers of energy.

National Environment Protection Council Act 1994

This legislation deals with the establishment of a National Environment Protection Council, and related matters.

National Gas (ACT) Act 2008

This Act establishes a framework to enable third parties to gain access to certain natural gas pipeline services, and deals with other associated matters.

Nature Conservation Act 1980 and Nature Conservation Regulation 1982

This legislation makes provision for the protection and conservation of native animals and native plants, and the reservation of areas for those purposes.

Planning and Development Act 2007, except chapter 4, and Planning and Development Regulation 2008
This legislation deals with planning and development in the ACT, including the Territory Plan, environmental assessments, approvals, building regulation and land administration.

Plastic Shopping Bags Ban Act 2010 and Plastic Shopping Bags Ban Regulation 2011

This legislation restricts the supply of plastic shopping bags, and deals with other associated matters.

Public Place Names Act 1989 and Public Place Names Regulation 2011

This legislation concerns the naming of divisions and public places. It provides for the Minister to determine names for suburbs, streets and other public places. In practice, this is done in consultation with the Public Place Names Committee. ESDD maintains a database of public place names.

Public Roads Act 1902

This Act deals with the opening, closing and surveying of roads and streets. It provides for the Minister to call for a survey of the boundaries when their location is in doubt. ACTPLA maintains a record of all road openings and closings and prepares notifiable instruments on behalf of the Minister.

Recovery of Lands Act 1929

This Act provides for the recovery of possession of lands on the determination of leases.

Surveyors Act 2007

This Act regulates the practice of land surveying. The Directorate provides administrative and technical support to the Surveyor-General, who develops standards for and regulates surveying.

Unit Titles Act 2001, parts 2, 3 and 10, Division 11.1 and Part 12 and Unit Titles Regulation 2001

This legislation deals with the requirements for the approval, registration, amendment and cancellation of unit title applications. It deals with the variation, expiration and termination of unit leases. It also covers the establishment, membership and general functions of owners’ corporations.

Utilities Act 2000, except parts 3A, 11, 12 and 14 and ss. 254 and 256 in relation to Part 14, Utilities (Electricity Restrictions) Regulation 2004, Utilities (Electricity Transmission) Regulation 2006, Utilities (Gas Restrictions) Regulation 2005, Utilities (Water Conservation) Regulation 2006 and Utility Networks (Public Safety) Regulation 2001

This legislation  sets out the requirements for the technical regulation of utilities, the use of a technical code, enforcement actions and the role of inspectors. The regulation concerns network facilities of utilities.

Utilities (Telecommunication Installations) Act 2001

This Act covers installation of telecommunication facilities on utility network facilities.

Water and Sewerage Act 2000 and Water and Sewerage Regulation 2001

This legislation governs plumbing and drainage work in the ACT. It covers plan approval, plumbing plan certifiers, hydraulic plan approvals, offences, enforcement and plumbing inspectors and their powers.

Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Act 2005

This Act covers water efficiency labelling, the making of water efficiency standards, and related matters.

Water Resources Act 2007 and Water Resources Regulation 2007

This legislation  provides for sustainable management of the water resources of the Territory, and other associated matters.

Subsidiaries, joint ventures and partnerships

The Directorate has no subsidiaries, joint ventures or partnerships.