Environmental Effects Statements

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Environmental impacts of your project may need to be assessed

In Victoria, private and public projects with potentially significant environmental impacts may require an environmental impact assessment. This is to ensure the possible effects of a proposed development are identified and possible mitigation measures are considered before approval decisions are made and to provide opportunities for public participation in the decision-making process.

The most common form of environmental assessment in Victoria occurs under the Planning and Environment Act 1987. It compels municipal councils to consider the possible environmental impacts of a development before granting planning permit applications or planning scheme amendments.

A more comprehensive examination of potential environmental impacts occurs under the Environment Effects Act 1978 in the form of an Environment Effects Statement (EES).

What is an Environment Effects Statement (EES)?

An EES is a document that examines the possible impacts a proposed development may have on the environment. It aims to provide for the transparent, integrated and timely assessment of the environmental effects of projects capable of having a significant impact on the environment.

The goal of an EES is to summarise the proposed development, identify any alternatives, technically analyse the potential impacts and their consequences, develop a program for minimising, managing and monitoring impacts and provide for public participation in the decision-making process.

When may an EES be Required?

An EES is likely to be required when:

  • there is a likelihood of significant adverse effects on the environment;
  • there is a need for integrated assessment of potential environmental effects (including the economic and social effects) of a project and relevant alternatives; and/ or
  • normal statutory processes would not provide a sufficiently comprehensive, integrated and transparent assessment.

What is the EES process?

The Minister for Planning is responsible for the Environment Effects Act. If the Minister determines an EES is required it is the proponent’s responsibility to prepare the assessment.

The EES process is designed to be flexible in terms of the parties who can refer a project proposal, the Minister’s response to a referral, the scope of an EES and the process and the form of inquiry. The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) administers the EES process and will normally confirm the scope of the assessment, establish a Consultative Committee/ Technical Reference Group, exhibit the document and arrange for appointment of an independent panel to review the EES and public submissions.

To facilitate timely decision making, an EES and other statutory decisions are often considered concurrently, including decisions under the following legislation:

  • Planning and Environment Act 1987
  • Environment Protection Act 1970
  • Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990
  • Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Commonwealth).

Who refers a project to the Minister?

Referrals to the Minister to determine whether an EES is required can be made by:

  • a project proponent;
  • any Minister or statutory body responsible for public works; or
  • any person required by any Act to make a decision (a decision-maker) such as another Minister, Government agency, statutory authority or local government.

The Minister administering the Environment Effects Act 1978, or the Minister administering relevant approvals legislation, can also direct a decision-maker to refer a project. A project can be referred as soon as sufficient information is available.  A project should be referred in its entirety, whenever possible.

Environment Effects Statement Process

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How long does it take to complete an EES?

It generally takes 12 months or longer to complete an EES, depending on complexity. Ministerial Guidelines have been prepared by DELWP to provide further detail about the EES process. These are available from DELWP .

We can provide preliminary advice on whether an EES is likely to be required for your project.

Source: Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
See website for a copy of the document “Ministerial Guidelines for Assessment of Environmental Effects under the Environment Effects Act 1978” 7th edition, 2006.