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.
Declaring a prescribed project enlivens the Coordinator-General’s powers to ensure timely decision-making in relation to prescribed processes and prescribed decisions.
- A prescribed process is a process required to be undertaken under a law of the state including, for example, a process in a stage of the development assessment system under the Planning Act 2016 (Planning Act).
- A prescribed decision is a decision required to be made under a law of the state, for example, a development approval under the Planning Act.
In deciding whether to declare a prescribed project the Minister may consider:
- public interest
- potential environmental effects
- other matters considered relevant.
Proponents seeking a prescribed project declaration must apply in writing to the Coordinator-General. The application should address the prescribed project application guidelines to provide the Coordinator-General with sufficient information to make a recommendation to the Minister.
Proponents are encouraged to seek a pre-lodgement meeting with the Office of the Coordinator-General prior to making an application for a prescribed project declaration.
Land Acquisition and Project Delivery
Office of the Coordinator-General
Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning
PO Box 15517
City East Qld 4002 Australia
Tel +61 7 3452 7505
Purpose of declaration
A prescribed project declaration enables the Coordinator-General, if necessary, to intervene in state and local government approval processes to ensure timely decision-making for the prescribed project.
The Office of the Coordinator-General can overcome unreasonable delays in obtaining project approvals by:
- acting as a point of contact for the proponent within government to streamline government communications
- coordinating local and state government agencies regarding statutory approvals required for the project
- facilitating discussions and information exchanges between the proponent and other stakeholders (e.g. local authorities and state government agencies).
A prescribed project declaration is most effective when used to obtain the final approvals after preliminary approvals have already been provided by the Coordinator-General or another authority.
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 end 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, which requires the decision-maker to 'progress' the administrative processes necessary to complete the assessment process.
- notice to decide, which requires the decision-maker to make the relevant decision within a specified timeframe.
- step in notice, which allows the Coordinator-General (with the Minister's approval) to 'step in' and assume responsibility for assessing and deciding on a project, in place of the decision-maker.
The step-in power is similar to the ministerial call-in power under the Planning Act. Unlike the ministerial call-in power, the prescribed project provisions apply to a wider range of decisions and processes including under the Planning Act.
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 Minister'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 sitting days of the notice being given.
Critical infrastructure easement
The Minister may, by gazette notice, declare a project to be a ‘critical infrastructure project’, at the same time as declaring it a prescribed project, if the Minister considers the project is critical or essential for the State for economic, environmental or social reasons.
Declaring a critical infrastructure project enlivens the Minister’s powers to register a ‘critical infrastructure easement’ (CIE) over existing public utility easements.
While the registration of a CIE does not extinguish the existing public utility easement, the existing public utility easement holder cannot exercise any rights that would interfere with the rights given under the critical infrastructure easement.
The Office of the Coordinator-General requires a written request from proponents to declare their project a critical infrastructure project, together with an application for a prescribed project declaration that addresses the prescribed project application guidelines.
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 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.