I am pleased to announce that the Tasmanian Liberal Government will draft amendments to the National Parks and Reserves Management Act 2002 to reform the Reserve Activity Assessment (RAA) system, formalising the process and providing greater transparency.
The RAA process was implemented in 2005 and is used to assess the potential environmental impacts of a proposed use or development, and to identify necessary actions to manage the impacts on land managed by the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS).
The RAA process is underpinned by an extensive policy-based framework, has provided for the appropriate management of activities and their impacts on reserved land since its inception, and has been validated by the Auditor General.
The PWS recently undertook a review of the RAA system, with the review recommendations being implemented and already making significant improvements to the RAA process.
While the RAA is underpinned by an extensive policy-based framework, it is not however a legislative requirement of the National Parks and Reserves Management Act.
As the Government wants to ensure greater transparency and continuous improvement across our programs and services, the Government will commence the process of drafting amendments to the RAA which will include the following amendments:
*Mandating elements of the RAA process for major uses and developments;
*Establishment of an independent assessment panel to assess and review significant proposals against the relevant Management Plan;
*Provision for third party appeals and cost recovery for RAA assessments; and
*Publication of leases and licences over Reserved land.
The aim of these reforms will be to deliver a dedicated statutory environmental impact and planning assessment process within the framework of the National Parks and Reserves Management Act and to remove duplication in LUPAA.
These reforms will be robust and give the community full confidence in the decision making around reserved land once implemented.
In the interim, the recruitment of six new assessment officers is underway – two in each region, to enable RAA applications to be assessed within reasonable timeframes. Five of these six positions have already been filled and will ensure that use and developments are undertaken sustainably and in consideration of mitigating impacts to natural and cultural values.
The Government is dedicated to continuing this journey of improvement through increased transparency and a more robust process, and these important reforms will deliver on that commitment.
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