When a proposed project could potentially have significant environmental effects, a written referral is sent to the Minister for Planning requesting a decision on whether an Environment Effects Statement (EES) is required.
A referral can be made by:
- A project proponent
- Any Minister or statutory body responsible for public works, e.g. VicRoads or a water authority
- Ministers, agencies (such as the Environment Protection Authority) or local government who make decisions under Victorian law
- Alternatively, the Minister for Planning may direct that a project be referred.
Ideally the project proponent will make the referral in order to avoid delays by the decision-maker having to do it late in the approvals process.
Criteria for referrals
The criteria for deciding whether a project should be referred are listed on page 7 of the Ministerial Guidelines for Assessment of Environmental Effects under the Environment Effects Act 1978:
- Ministerial Guidelines for Assessing Environmental Effects (PDF, 581.7 KB)
- Amendments to Ministerial Guidelines (DOCX, 21.9 KB)
How to make a referral
Referrals should contain the information outlined on pages 8-9 of the above Ministerial Guidelines, using the Referral Form template (DOC, 205.5 KB).
A signed hard copy, together with a cover letter and all supporting documents, should be submitted to:
Minister for Planning
GPO Box 2392
Melbourne Vic 3001
In addition, an electronic copy should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org to assist in timely receipt and processing. An acknowledgment email will be provided.
The electronic copy should be in Microsoft Word where possible. Supporting documents such as plans and maps may be provided as PDFs.
If supporting documents are greater than 2 MB in size they should be sent on a CD or DVD accompanying the hard copy original.
Anyone intending to lodge a referral is strongly encouraged to consult the department first. Consultation assists you to decide whether to refer the project and helps you clarify what information should be provided. It may also guide proponents in conducting feasibility studies and developing a proposal.
For pre-referral advice please contact the Environment Assessment Unit on (03) 8392 5503.
When will a decision be made?
Once a referral has been formally accepted, the Minister for Planning will normally make a decision within 20 business days.
The proponent and relevant decision-makers will be notified of the decision in writing. Public notice will then be given on this website.
If a proposal is likely to have a significant impact on Matters of National Environmental Significance, a separate referral may need to be made under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 (EPBC Act). Refer to the Department of the Environment and Energy website or call 1800 803 772 for further information.
If it is determined that assessment is required under both the Environment Effects Act and the EPBC Act, the relevant process can be accredited under the new Assessment Bilateral Agreement between the Commonwealth and Victoria.
This means that proponents will not have to undertake two assessment processes, minimising duplication and saving time and resources.
Visit the Environmental Assessment Bilateral Agreement webpage for more information.