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Our role in assessing major developments

Summary table showing our role in assessing major developments

Provides an overview of the department's role in assessing major developments in water.

This table explains what we do at each stage of the major project planning process and the information required from the proponent at each of these stages.

Major development proponents should contact the Assessments team within the department via email at landuse.enquiries@dpi.nsw.gov.au to seek comment, review, or undertake consultation (PDF, 73.99 KB)

Planning Stage


What the NSW Department of Industry does

What is required from proponents

NSW Mining & Petroleum Gateway

The Mining and Petroleum Gateway process adds an upfront step to the assessment of large mining and CSG production projects located on Strategic Agricultural Land in NSW.

A Gateway Certificate is required to be issued by the Mining and Petroleum Gateway Panel (the Panel) prior to a proponent lodging a development application.

Each Gateway application must be referred to the Commonwealth Independent Expert Scientific Committee (IESC) and the NSW Minister for Primary Industries (the Minister) by the Panel, to obtain advice on the water impacts of the proposal.

We provide important technical advice on the potential water impacts of a particular proposal for the Minister's consideration.

The Minister must also consider the IESC's response in providing advice to the Panel

The proponent is required to undertake a preliminary assessment of the proposal against a standard set of targeted scientific criteria, developed by the NSW Mining and Petroleum Gateway Panelrelating to agricultural and water impacts.

Assess impacts on highly productive groundwater in accordance with the NSW Aquifer Interference Policy (2012).

Planning Focus Meeting (PFM)

For more complex projects, DP&E may convene a PFM with relevant government agencies and local councils prior to or immediately following the lodgement of an application for SEARs by a proponent.

Our assessing officer/s may attend PFMs to gain an initial understanding of the project and potential water-related issues.

We may also facilitate one-on-one discussions with the proponent to identify potential issues early on and discuss information requirements moving forward.

Ensure a clear outline of the proposal is provided, including maps, water courses etc.

Secretary's Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs)

The proponent lodges a development application with DP&E and seeks the Environmental Assessment (EA) requirements. These requirements outline what needs to be included/addressed in the project EIS.

We review the proponent's preliminary environmental assessment and provides advice to DP&E as to what should be included in the SEARs.

Ensure a clear outline of the proposal is provided, including maps, water courses etc.

Proponents should refer to the list of common/standard SEARs recommended to DP&E by us for:

The level of information required depends on the size of the project and predicted impacts on surface and groundwater sources.

Test of Adequacy (ToA)

The proponent or DP&E may circulate the draft EIS for relevant agencies to review and decide if it meets the Secretary's EA requirements issued by DP&E.

We undertake a basic adequacy check against the SEARs issued by DP&E, to see if the information requested has been addressed/included in the draft EIS.

We identify additional water-related issues that need to be addressed before the final EIS is submitted.

A full merit assessment is not undertaken at this stage

Provide a clearly set-out draft EIS with a contents table at the front that identifies where information for particular SEARs is located within the report.

Identify any SEARs that have not been addressed in the EIS upfront and give reasoning as to why

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

The proponent submits their final EIS to DP&E. It is placed online for public exhibition for a minimum of 28 days. Both Government agencies and the public have the opportunity to comment on the EIS during this time.

We undertake a full merit assessment of the EIS against the SEARs. This includes seeking advice from technical experts within the organisation (e.g. groundwater and/or surface water modelling and management).

Provide a clearly set-out final EIS that includes an assessment of any additional water-related issues identified at the ToA stage.

Identify any SEARs that have not been addressed in the EIS upfront and give reasoning as to why.

May be required to provide additional information if necessary to clarify discrepancies or provide greater detail.

Response To Submissions (RTS)

The proponent responds to submissions received regarding the proposal.

We provide advice to DP&E as to whether the proponent's response adequately addresses concerns raised at the EIS stage.

The RTS report should provide a clear response to each issue raised, preferably in a table format, or with a separate section for each agency.

Identify any concerns that have not been addressed in the RTS and provide reasoning as to why.

Draft Conditions of Approval (CoAs)

DP&E circulates draft conditions of approval for agencies and the proponent to comment on.

We provide recommendations to DP&E regarding the adequacy of the draft conditions.


Modification (MOD)

The modification of a previously approved major project.

Modifications vary greatly in size and potential impacts on water resources.

The assessment of large modifications may follow a similar process to that of a new project.

We provide advice to DP&E at each stage it is consulted (SEARs, EIS, CoAs).

Provide clearly set-out supporting documentation.

Contact us in advance regarding any modifications that are likely to have a significant impact on water resources. This will help to minimise potential delays in assessment.

Final Determination

DP&E makes a final determination on whether the project can go ahead.

A notice of determination is issued by DP&E and made publicly available online.

We provide a record of the final determination, including the conditions of approval is kept for future reference.



Anything else post-approval that requires review or ongoing reporting.

May include subsidence management plans, water management plans, water monitoring and modelling plans (WMMPs), mining operations plans, rehabilitation management plans, etc.

We play an ongoing role in auditing and reporting through the conditions of a development consent/approval.

We provide advice to proponents in the development and review of Water Management Plans and WMMPs.

Our staff will endeavour to complete their review as soon as possible to ensure the efficient use of resources and to prevent holding up a project unnecessarily

May involve more in-depth discussions with our technical experts.