Our Environment

Port Stephens' environment is clean, green, protected and enhanced.

Strategic planning

  • Port Stephens Planning Strategy is the overarching land-use strategy, providing future direction for Port Stephens over a 25 year period. It was adopted in 2011.
  • Local Environment Plan provides the statutory framework for planning in the local government area.
  • Development Control Plan provides further guidance to the Local Environment Plan and is used by Council and applicants to guide the preparation and assessment of Development Applications.
  • Local Infrastructure Contributions Plan outlines the process for collecting and expending local infrastructure contributions (formerly known as Section 94 or Developer Contributions).

Find out more about Port Stephens Planning Strategies, which provide more detail on plans for help housing, economic development, rural lands and recreational lands.

The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 has been the primary legislation governing land-use planning matters in NSW. On 1 March 2018, the new Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment Act 2017 came into effect — the biggest overhaul of the Act since the legislation’s inception almost 40 years ago. Find out more about Improving the NSW Planning System.

In NSW, Planning Panels provide independent, merit-based decision making on regionally significant development. The Panels may also have a role in planning proposals, to undertake rezoning reviews or to act as the Relevant Planning Authority (RPA) when directed. Find out more about Planning Panels.


Our Compliance Policy assists staff to promptly and effectively act on unlawful land use and other illegal activities. It regulates:

  • development activity
  • pollution control
  • parking
  • natural resource management
  • environmental health
  • control over the keeping of animals
  • other regulatory issues.

The Policy also aims to minimise Council's legal costs by giving a high priority to education, intervention, negotiation and mediation.

The NSW Ombudsman's Enforcement guidelines also provides further information about how compliance is managed and roles and responsibilities.