Due: 10 November
Page limit: 6 pages (including executive summary, text, tables, end/foot notes, appendices) but excluding references
You are required to prepare a briefing document for Minister for Planning and Environment. Your briefing shall discuss one of the following topics and is to be completed within the report template as provided and must demonstrate your understanding of the interaction of social, ecological and political processes that influence how Australia manages its environmental future.
A. Planning for Sydney’s growing population
B. Planning for bushfire protection at the urban / bushland interface
C. Protecting and managing ecology in cities
D. Expanding ecotourism in national parks and wilderness areas
E. Develop new consultation strategies to support urban and regional land use planning
Or, You may select another topic with approval by the unit convenor.
Maximum page length 6. This is to include:
a) the 1 page executive summary and
b) a visual summary of the key aspects in your report (this may relate to the issues, policy relationships or recommendations)
Your answer may like to address the following elements (these are not in any order)
Define the key issues
What is the evidence / data that links to the issues
What are the key terms
Summarise the need for the briefing note
Provide a brief summary of similar policies or approaches used to address the issue from other jurisdictions (within Australian or international)
What are the implications of your issue to other government Ministers and/or departments
What are the likely financial implications (i.e. would Treasury, IPART or other financially related parts of government be interested in this)
Are you making recommendations and if so are they supported in your document
(the following heads are to be used and your summary must not exceed 1 page)
TITLE Add a one-line title
Write a core message summarising the briefing in no more than 3 sentences and 5 lines. Summarise the issue, the Department’s analysis of the issue and the actions that should follow. You can structure the core message with 1 sentence each on the topic, the analysis and the action, being sure to capture why the Minister should support the recommendation.
Start with minimal descriptive context of the topic and the issues it raises. Limit this to 1 or 2 paragraphs. Place most of the traditional ‘Background’ in the ‘Context’ section over the page if further detail is needed.
Foreground your analysis of the issue
As briefly as you can, discuss the analysis that supports your recommendation, capturing the main conclusions about the topic and the reasons supporting the recommendation.
If your readers need more extensive analysis, include the most important elements on the first page and place any further detail in the ‘Rationale’ section over the page.
Use analytical headings to structure your key information
Structure this page by your analysis of the issue rather than by the narrative of the research.
Your main reasons should appear in one-line analytical headings, and the text under each should briefly justify each reason and support it with evidence. The Minister should be able to read the core message, scan the headings and understand the essence of the briefing and the reasoning for the recommendation.
Be as concise as possible
Consider your reader’s needs rather than the level of detail you may prefer. How much information does the Minister really need to understand and act on your recommendation?
In more complex briefings, foreground the most important information on the first page, then follow with supporting information. The Minister can decide how much detail he needs.
In simpler briefings, you do not need to write any text for the ‘Rationale’ or ‘Context’ sections if you can fit everything on 1 page, but include the media and consultation table.
Make sure the key information and recommendation do not go over 1 page.
Write in plain English and delete instructions
Prefer short words and sentences, write in the active voice and avoid jargon and clutter.
Delete or overwrite all instructional text in this template.
This should include both funding and financial impacts. Funding implications include cost, total budget, funding source and PAC number. Financial implications include information on any potential broader risks for the Department or government (eg even though no additional funding is being sought, there may be a change in a pattern of service delivery, or if the recommended project is not funded there may be wider financial implications for government). Finance Directorate must be consulted if funding is affected, to confirm funding sources for large budgets or if there are significant potential financial risks.
Recommendation (ensure recommendation appears on page 1)
That the Deputy Secretary .....
Do not repeat key information
Only include the ‘Rationale’ section if you need to provide more detail for the reasons supporting your recommendation.
This section should add further analysis (conclusions, opinion, reasons, evidence, explanations) rather than description (background, process, history, basic facts).
Use this format for lists
When explaining why the recommendation is the best approach, consider:
•the risks and benefits of the recommendation
•how these will be mitigated or realised
•the risks and benefits of alternatives, including status quo.
Add further context only if needed
Do not repeat the descriptive information that you included at the start of the ‘Key information’ section. This ‘Context’ section is for additional background detail that the Minister may turn to after reading the most important points.
Where possible, keep the ‘Rationale’ and ‘Context’ under 1 page, and the briefing under 2.
For a chronology of events, use the table below (this can be used as part of providing a short history of key events, policies, legislative change)
See example below
Examples of visual summaries
(you are encouraged to look at a range of guidelines, peer review papers and online power point presentations to get an understanding of what makes a good visual image and how it summarises complex information). There are many web sites that you can look at that give you hints of what a visual summary could or should include such as:
Example 1. Summary of the key recommendations (blue circles) for a governance review of the Parramatta River Catchment Group. Orange circles represent major technical studies and orange squares the major elements (chapters) envisaged as part of the proposed Master Plan
Example 2 Understanding the importance of scale and biodiversity planning and outcomes (after Ives et al 2010)
Attachment 1 provides an example of text from various student assignments dealing with a review of environmental policies in Australia. These have NOT followed the required template but are provided to illustrate how the student has presented their analysis and its analysis. You should read the assessment question first to understand what was the assessment task, how the answer relates to this and what you may take from their approach to your task
Attachment 1 Policy review assignment comments and example
Assignment 1. Environmental and planning policy review
The purpose of this assessment is to enable students to become familiar with an area of environmental policy or regulation and how the government develops, supports and regulates the management of the environment thought various tools and approaches.
Your task is to select one of the policies / regulatory approaches below and:
1. Summarise the history of the development of the policy/regulation, the objectives and key features, who is responsible for its implementation and review
2. Describe how is the policy or regulation implemented in the development application and assessment process?
3. Provide a critical review (positive and negative) of the policy or regulation. Your critical review should be supported by supporting academic literature (journals) and other commentary in the grey literature (not peer reviewed) as to the effectiveness of the policy as to how it is achieving its objectives.
The policies or regulations you can select are listed below. While reference is given to include:
BioBanking – this is used by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage as part of the development process to address the loss of biodiversity values from habitat degradation
Bushfire planning – for example in NSW this is regulated through Planning for Bush Fire Protection 2006 and Australian Standard: 3059 Construction of buildings in bushfire prone areas 1999
Contaminated land – in NSW this is primarily regulated via the State Environmental Planning Policy 55 Remediation of Land but you should also look at the role of local councils as part of rezoning and development assessments
Pollution licencing – this is regulated by state based environmental protection agencies. In NSW this is the EPA.
Examples of how and where the stronger submissions dealt with the question.
This feedback is not exhaustive and I have sought to give you examples across each of the 4 areas.
You should also refer to the marks on your own assignment in Turnitin and some additional comments I’ll circulate in class.
Look for how the environmental problem has been framed and its importance. Also how the essay will be structured.
Example 1 – Coal seam gas
THIS EXAMPLE HAS SOME POOR EXPRESSION YET ARTICULATES VERY WELL WHY THE ISSUES OF CSG IS IMPORTANT AND TO WHOM. IT ALSO OUTLINES EXACTLY WHAT WILL BE DISCUSSED AND IN WHAT ORDER – IN EFFECT ADDRESSING THE KEY QUESTIONS SET IN THE ASSESSMENT.
Queensland is a resource state and subsequently mining is one of backbones of its economy. The unconventional gas industry such as Coal Seam Gas (CSG) has witnessed a boom in recent times and is now is a multi-billion dollar business. CSG is therefore a large generator of income and a great creator of employment locally. However along with its benefits come its major disadvantages to do with environmental damage and pollution. This has led to the CSG sector being highly contentious, accompanied by various opposition and lobbyists against its continuation. Consequently such a large scale and controversial sector presents challenges in policy making and regulation that promotes growth and investment while protecting the natural environment. This report will examine some policy and regulations in place in the state of Queensland directly meant to manage pollution caused by CSG water or produce. A brief account of the CSG industry is given followed by firstly identifying the departments directly related to it. A more in depth analysis of a policy designed to manage coal seam gas water is given, The Queensland Coal Seam Gas Water Management Policy 2012. The analysis includes its content and key objectives. The report will also provide examples of situations to which it may apply and outline some major CSG developments in the state. Finally the overall effectiveness of the policies discussed will be assessed.
Example 2 Biobanking
THIS SECOND EXAMPLE WAS STRONG IN PROVIDING CONTEXT. WHERE IT WAS A LITTLE WANTING HOW THE PAPER WAS STRUCTURED, IN EFFECT HOW IT WAS GOING TO ANSWER THE QUESTION
The Biodiversity banking and offsets scheme which is also known as biobanking is a marked based approach designed to address the loss of biodiversity values due to habitat degradation (DECC 2007). One of the greatest environmental challenges in Australia at present is the conservation of endangered species and ecosystem; and the reason behind the heavy loss of biodiversity is due to the overgrazing and clearing the lands for agriculture, and recently due to clearing the native vegetation for urban development (DECC 2007). The biobanking scheme was introduced in July 2008 by New South Wales Government, Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC) to generate conservation gains along with the biodiversity assessment (Department of Environment Climate Change and water 2009). The Biobanking scheme was established under part 7A of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (TSC Act); action and the process of the scheme assisted by the Biobanking Assessment Methodology (BBAM) (OEH 2014).
Historical overview and development of policy
Look for emergence of law and policy as it combined with socio-environmental issues of the day culminating in the current policy with context as to why. Note figure in second example illustrating the roles of the 3 tiers of government
Example 3 Bushfire Planning. This example provides a solid historical perspective (noting that it started from 1867) and included text that demonstrated how the legal frameworks were subsequently developed
History of Development In 1867, the Municipalities Act was the first mention of fire in NSW legislation, and provided Council the ability to “make by-laws for preventing and extinguishing fires”, under Section 153 (Government of NSW, 1867, p. 31). Following this, in 1884, 1901, 1906, and 1912, polices were created and adapted making Local and State Government responsible for prevention (NSW RFS, 2009). The Local Government Act 1919 and Bush Fires Act 1930 covered misuse of fire, and enabled local management of firefighting, whilst also providing councils with more powers (Montoya, 2014a). The Bush Fire Advisory Committee was formed in 1937 to help defragment policy (NSW RFS, 2009). In response to the 1939 ‘Black Friday’ bushfires, bushfire risk policy enforced protecting and vacating properties under the National Security Act 1942, which became the Bush Fires Act 1949, which gave council more powers to control bushfires (Lee, 1942; NSW RFS, 2009).
The next few years had significant fire events in urban areas, including thirteen deaths in the 1951/52 bushfire season, and another four deaths in 1957, which prompted amendments to the Bush Fires Act in 1958 and 1963 (Australian Emergency Management Institute, 2016a, 2016b; Montoya, 2014a). In 1970, the Bush Fire Council of NSW was established, along with further amendments regulating the prevention, suppression, and control of fires (The State Records Authority of NSW, 2015). The 1974-75 bushfire season was the worst in thirty years, with 15% of Australia’s land mass sustaining fire damage, killing six people (Australian Emergency Management Institute, 2016c). A pattern of major events and amendments to the Bush Fires Act followed: Fires in 1976-79 resulted in the Bush Fires (Amendment) Act 1979 and 1980; The major 1981-83 fire events resulted in the Bush Fires (Amendment) Act 1983; the 1984-85 and 1987-88 fires providing the reasoning for the Bush Fires (Amendment) Act 1989; and so on until 1997 (Montoya, 2014a; NSW RFS, 2009).
A shift in policy occurred in 1997, with the Rural Fires Act 1997 No. 65 being proclaimed (NSW Government, 1997). This policy established the NSW Rural Fire Service, determining its purpose, whilst also creating rules regarding prevention, mitigation, and suppression of fires (University of New England, 2015). The Act also established a duty of care for owners of land to prevent bushfires, and enforced hazard reduction (University of New England, 2015). In 2002, the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, and the Rural Fires Act 1997, were amended with the Rural Fires and Environmental Assessment Legislation Amendment Act 2002 (NSW RFS, 2009). In 2009, 2010, 2013, and 2014, the Rural Fires Act was further amended (Montoya, 2014a).
Example 4 Contaminated land.
Notable in this example is the use of subheadings and diagrams to assist the reader and explain the evolution of the policy frameworks between jurisdictions. It clearly defines key terms (with referencing) and provides a thorough review of the historical legal development impacting on this issue
Section 2: History and Legislative Framework
Urban consolidation is a centrepiece of strategic planning due to population growth and the negative implications of suburbanisation (Legacy et al. 2013; Newton 2012; Randolph & Freestone 2012). As a result, infill development and adaptive re-use of abandoned inner-city industrial sites and middle-ring suburbs has occurred (Legacy et al. 2013; Newton 2012).
These sites are categorised as Brownfield; abandoned industrial or commercial sites typically replaced with medium-high density residential spaces (Legacy et al. 2013; Newton 2012; Randolph & Freestone 2012). Greyfield; ageing low-density middle-ring suburbs typically redeveloped by larger detached houses, low-medium residential dwellings, and/or renovations (Legacy et al. 2013; Newton 2012; Randolph & Freestone 2012).
2.2 Statutory Framework
Prior to current legislation, the Public Health Act (1902) and Unhealthy Building Land Act (UBL Act) 1990 controlled construction on land that was declared to be unfit for building (EPA 2013a).
Land contamination and remediation issues are regulated by the States and Territories (Davies et al. 2015; Mfodwo 2006). The Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment implemented a national approach to contaminated land in 1992 through the development of the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council Guidelines, later replaced by the National Environment and Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure (NEPM) 1999 (Davies et al. 2015; Mfodwo 2006).
In NSW, contaminated land is managed through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and planning authorities (Figure 1; Department of Urban Affairs and Planning and Environmental Protection Authority [DUAP & EPA] 1998; Mfodwo 2006). The EPA governs sites declared ‘significant’ in terms of potential risk of harm to the environment and human health, and is legislated under the Contaminated Land Management (CLM) Act 1997 (Figure 1; Davies et al. 2015; DUAP & EPA 1998; EPA 2013b & 2014; Mfodwo 2006).
Sites declared not-significant are governed under the Environmental Planning and Assessment (EP&A) Act 1979 (Figure 1; Davies et al. 2015; DUAP & EPA 1998; Mfodwo 2006). SEPP 55 guides strategic planning and development control for local and state planning authorities (EPA 2013c & 2014; Rourke 2013; Standing Council on Environment and Water n.d). SEPP 55 is supported by the Managing Land Contamination – Planning Guidelines (hereafter Planning Guidelines) (Davies et al. 2015; DUAP & EPA 1998). These Guidelines outline the commitments to best management practice in the planning and development control processes (Davies et al. 2015; DUAP & EPA, 1998). The Guidelines are not statutory, however failure to comply requires justification (DUAP & EPA, 1998). Under SEPP 55, remediation works requiring development consent are classified as Category 1, while works that do not need consent are Category 2 but notification is required (DUAP & EPA 1998). The SEPP 55 was implemented in 1998 and has since had minor amendments, including Clause 11 – State Significant Development (Mfodwo 2006).
As a planning instrument, SEPP 55 legally requires local government to consider issues of land contamination when reviewing a development application (DA) or re-zoning land use (DUAP & EPA, 1998; Mfodwo 2006). These may be inscribed in Local Environment Plans and Development Control Plans (DCPs), and associated contamination zoning maps (Figure 1; Davies et al. 2015).
Planning authorities are responsible for compliance and the proponents are responsible for implementation of SEPP 55 (Mfodwo 2006).
THIS SECTION IS A BRIEF SUMMARY OF CRITICAL ISSUES WITH ADDITIONAL DETALS IN TEXT. EACH OF THE SUMMARISE ARE SOLID EXAMPLES FOR VARIOUS AND OFTERN DIFFERENT REASONS.
THE TEXT FROM EXAMPLES 5 and 6 ARE TAKEN FROM THE CONCLUDING SECTIONS OF THE PAPER AS THE ARGUMENTS IN THE TEXT ARE A BIT LONG FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS INSTRUCTION AND OVERVIEW. I HAVE INCLUDED THEM AS THEY IDENTIFY PERSONAL VIEWS (1) WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN STRENGTHTED IF IT PROVIDED SOME MORE SPECIFICITY AND (2) WAS CLEAR AS TO WHERE IMPROVEMENTS ARE NEED (I.E. IT WAS SPECIFIC).
Example 5 Bushfire
Critical Assessment of Effectiveness and Conclusions
Ultimately, the management of bushfire risk in urban areas is a complex construct of socio-cultural, economic, and environmental considerations – a paradigm which places human health, understandably, as its primary objective. With bushfires a significant political issue since European Settlement in Australia, policies regarding its management often follows the anthropocentric and environmental, zeitgeist of its times. Whilst environmental protection is not explicitly stated in planning regimes, often considered as subsections of other major ideologies, it is an exceptionally important aspect of society. The current legislative framework – an amalgamation of local, and state government policies, coupled with recommendations to utilise but not abide by scientifically researched guides such as the one by the RFS – is in my opinion needlessly complex, with a large room for improvement. Efforts to unify state government policies into a national framework should be continued, along with a stronger emphasis and enforcement of research based, scientific, information sources. Whilst in practical, everyday applications of policy, environmental impacts seem to be given a higher priority than in theory, a higher prioritisation of ecology in policy would be ideal in seeking an effective balance between ecocentric, and anthropocentric ideologies.
Example 6 included for the insights and recommendations provided in the conclusions
Recommendations The introduction of further APZs, SFAZs and LMZs is going to reduce the current quantity of bushland we have, significantly impacting of the biodiversity of flora and fauna. The loss of bushland is going to increase as our cities grow (if we continue as we are developing currently). The secondary objectives of the original Code of preserving the environment are at a risk with the current urbanisation and population growth trends. It is recommended that the Code and its objectives remain and that Certificates still be required for the clearing of lands. Changing Local Environment Plans to allow for higher density in a predominantly R2 Low Density Residential area (Sydney) will help reduce the need for bush fire hazard removals as densification will reduce urban sprawl. This idealistic recommendation works in favour of this policy but may have detrimental implications to society if not implemented appropriately. This Code, in conjunction with each other Code, Act and Policy, should be viewed with the changing nature of our society.
EXAMPLE 7 - THIS IS A LONGER EXAMPLE TO GIVE YOU A SENSE OF THE DEVELOPMENTOF THE ARGUMENTS MADE AND HOW THEY RELATE TO THE ISSUE (AND ALSO THE CAREFUL SELECTION OF CASE STUDIES)
Research and referencing
A few important points
1. At a Master’s level you are required to read widely and use relevant literature. While I will not set a minimum number of references a ball park for a 2000 word piece would be at least 6 and preferably more than 10 references from the peer review literature supported by an equivalent number of government/grey literature sources.
2. You should also balance your arguments – that is if there are competing views include them and draw your own conclusions including why.
3. The grey literature (web sites, government reports etc…) are a valuable source of information and should be used. However not exclusively!
4. You should validate any claim/statement/ fact using appropriate citation methods. It is not acceptable to draw from one or many sources and not include these in your in text reference. Some of you did this (and I penalised you heavily as at a post graduate level you should know better).
5. So you know when you submit your assessments via turnitin I can see on the originality tab the extent and where you may have copied or drawn from other sources. Sometimes this is high where you quote specific texts or include examples from a web site. I would say however that this is largely not necessary and you should be drawing from the sources and drafting your arguments in your own words.
This is much harder for me to demonstrate but I will include the title page from Golrockh’s submission. The title (subject) was clear (some of you did not include your policy choice and while easy to figure out it would have been easy to do), there was a relevant photo pertinent to the issue and this formed part of the focus of the response. Throughout the response there were clear subheadings
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