The Minister may, by gazette notice, declare a project to be a 'prescribed project'.
A prescribed project is one which is of significance, particularly economically and socially, to Queensland or a region.
In deciding whether to declare a prescribed project the Minister may consider:
- public interest
- potential environmental effects
- other matters considered relevant.
If a prescribed project is considered to be 'critical or essential' for economic, social or environmental reasons to Queensland, the Minister may also declare it a 'critical infrastructure project'.
Purpose of declaration
The purpose of declaring a project a prescribed project is to overcome any unreasonable delays in obtaining project approvals.
It enables the Coordinator-General, if necessary, to intervene in the approvals process in a number of ways to ensure timely decision-making for the prescribed project.
Potential prescribed projects
The types of projects that may be declared prescribed projects include:
- works a 'local body', the Coordinator-General, or other person is directed to undertake under the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971 (SDPWO Act)
- a project in a state development area
- an infrastructure facility (as defined in the SDPWO Act)
- a project declared a 'coordinated project'
- another project the Minister considers is economically or socially significant to Queensland or the region in which the project is to be undertaken, or affects an environmental interest of Queensland or a region.
Local bodies include:
- government-owned corporations
- statutory bodies
- other bodies established under an Act
- corporations whose shares are wholly owned by the State and/or local government/s
- subsidiaries whose shares are wholly owned by the abovementioned corporations.
The declaration of a prescribed project lasts for two years from the declaration date, or at a later date specified in the gazette notice.
The Minister may, by gazette notice, extend the declaration termination date if it is considered necessary or desirable. However, the extension cannot be longer than the initial period of the declaration.
List of declared projects
Notices to decision-makers
The Coordinator-General may give notices to a decision-maker responsible for making a decision on the development of a prescribed project, to ensure that the assessment process proceeds without undue delay.
This decision-maker may be a state government agency, local government or a government-owned corporation responsible for providing approvals, permits or authorities.
The Coordinator-General cannot issue a notice relating to a decision to be made by the Governor in Council or a Minister, or decisions outside the jurisdiction of the Queensland Government.
Types of notices
For prescribed projects, the Coordinator-General can issue a:
- Progression notice - requires the decision-maker to 'progress' the administrative processes necessary to complete the assessment process.
- Notice to decide - requires the decision-maker to make the relevant decision within a specified timeframe.
- Step in notice - allows the Coordinator-General (with the Minister's approval) to 'step in' and assume responsibility for assessing and making a decision on a project, in place of the decision-maker.
Appeals and reviews
Once a step in notice has been issued, the Coordinator-General's decision on a prescribed project cannot be appealed against under the SDPWO Act or other relevant legislation.
Also, the Coordinator-General's decision to declare a critical infrastructure project cannot be reviewed under the Judicial Review Act 1991.
Notice of decision and reporting
The Coordinator-General must provide a written 'notice of decision' to the applicant and decision-maker, including the reasons for, and any conditions attached to, a decision made following a step-in notice.
The Coordinator-General must also prepare a report on the step in notice, which the Minister must table in Parliament within 14 days of the notice being given.
Voluntary environmental agreement
The Coordinator-General may, with the approval of the Minister, enter into a voluntary environmental agreement with the prescribed project applicant.
These agreements are intended to:
- prevent, control or mitigate the detrimental environmental impacts of the prescribed project
- conserve, maintain, rehabilitate or enhance aspects of the environment.
The Coordinator-General must not enter into an agreement without the prior consent of the owners, lessees and/or other parties who have an interest in the affected land.