In the wake of March’s re-election of the NSW government, The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage is due to be dissolved; its functions performed by alternative departments.

The newly expanded Planning and Industry department will handle the issues of environmental protection and management. Heritage issues, meanwhile, will fall under the arts domain.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian attributed this change to a need for a sharper, more intense focus on environmental and heritage issues.

The pre-existing Office of Environment and Heritage originated in 2011, and was governed at various times by the Department of Premier and Cabinet and the Department of Planning and Environment.

The office oversaw the managing and preserving of both the state’s built and natural heritage. Under the auspices of the Heritage Council of NSW, advice was dispensed regarding heritage-related matters.

Penny Sharpe, acting leader of NSW Labor and shadow minister for environment and heritage, and Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski both have criticised this move, saying that it shows a reduced emphasis on environmental issues in NSW.

Rob Stokes has been elected NSW’s new Minister for Planning and Public Spaces. Matt Kean is the new minister of a combined energy and environment portfolio, and Don Harwin retains the arts portfolio.