The South Australian Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 (PDI ACT) and Planning, Development and Infrastructure Regulations 2017 (PDI Regulations) set out the processes for obtaining development approval.

The PDI Regulations have replaced the Development Regulations 2008 to guide the assessment of all development applications lodged under the new system.

An overview of Assessment pathways under the PDI Act can be found on the Planning SA website.

Assessment pathways

All development is classified into an assessment pathway (also known as category or classification) by reference to its zone and any applicable subzones or overlays.

Tables in each zone classify different development types as either Accepted, Deemed-to-Satisfy or Restricted. If development does not fall within these three classifications, it will be Performance Assessed.

The exceptions to this are:

  • Exempt acts/activities that are not development as set out in the Regulations, and don’t require a development application
  • Impact Assessed development (requiring an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)), which is classified in the Regulations or declared by the Minister.

If planning consent is required, development falls into one of three categories:

  • Accepted Development - only building consent is required, no planning consent is needed.
  • Code Assessed Development – Deemed-to-Satisfy Development is assessed by an accredited professional or assessment manager, and must be granted if it complies with the relevant criteria. Performance Assessed Development is assessed on its merits by an assessment manager or assessment panel.
  • Impact Assessed Development - Restricted Development is assessed by the State Planning Commission, while Impact Assessed (EIS) Development is assessed by the Minister for Planning and Local Government.

Local Council approval

Windfarm project developers have taken this path if the project size is less than 5MW.

As a developer, you can apply for development approval from the council within which your site is located. The council will consult the Environment Protection Agency and other relevant resource protection agencies, landholders and the community for feedback. The council’s assessment panel will decide whether your application meets criteria including visual impact and neighbour nuisance.

Third parties and applicants may be able to appeal the decision, depending on the scale of the project and the zoning of the site. For example, a project may be exempt from public notice if it’s considered minor or if it’s located on industrial land.

If an appeal is lodged by either an applicant or a third party when a project is notified, the appeal court would be guided by Development Plans in making its decision.

Crown Development

The Crown Development process covers projects considered to be significant infrastructure for the state’s development.

This is the process used by government agencies and by private developers with projects sponsored by government agencies. The State Commission Assessment Panel (SCAP) will assess the application and report to the Minister for Urban Development and Planning for approval within three months of the application’s lodgement.

There are no appeal rights.

If DAC considers that an application contradicts the intent of the relevant Development Plan, or where the Council opposes a development, but the Minister approves the project, the Minister must report that approval to Parliament for noting.

This process is streamlined, relatively short (time lines are prescribed) and there are no third-party appeal opportunities.

The South Australian Government makes available case management services to help investors negotiate native title, vegetation, water, road and infrastructure, and other issues.

Two wind farm and transmission infrastructure investors have used this pathway.

For more information about the development application process can be obtained from the SA Planning Portal managed by the Department of Planning , Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI).

Other legislative requirements

Investors should be aware that other Commonwealth and South Australian legislation may affect your applications.