Coalition has still not returned planning powers to people

CHANGES to the NSW planning system touted as the "biggest overhaul in a decade" fail to restore the community's right to have bad decisions reviewed by the courts.

"While today's announcement contains some positive changes, it fails to deliver on the Coalition's 2011 election promise to return planning power to the people," Nature Conservation Council campaigns director Daisy Barham said.

"The minor improvements in today's package do not compensate for the loss of community control of planning decisions resulting from council amalgamations and the appointment of panels and commissions that override local council planning powers.

"Crucially, the changes do not restore the rights of ordinary citizens to challenge bad decisions in the courts.

"These merits appeal rights were effectively stripped by Premier O'Farrell when he added the Planning Assessment Commission as a new tier of the planning system.

"Denying communities the right to have decisions scrutinised by an impartial arbiter means bad decisions go unchallenged, increasing the risk of serious harm to wildlife and public health.

"The planning system already favours developers, who have the resources and connections to ensure their interests are protected.

"We need a planning system that prioritises people and wildlife over the interests of big business."

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