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What is an environment effects statement?

The Environment Effects Act 1978 in Victoria requires an assessment of the potential environmental impacts of a proposed development.

An environment effects statement (EES) usually has:

  • a description of the proposed development
  • an outline of public and stakeholder consultation undertaken during investigations and the issues raised
  • a description of the existing environment that may be affected
  • predictions of significant environmental effects of the proposal and relevant alternatives
  • proposed measures to avoid, minimise or manage adverse environmental effects
  • a proposed program for monitoring and managing environmental effects during project implementation.

The environment effects assessment process

1. Referral

Project referred to the Minister for Planning.

A project is referred by a proponent (an individual or an organisation) or decision maker.

Learn more about EES referrals and referral criteria.

2. Decision

Minister's decision on the need for an EES.

The minister will make a decision typically in 20 business days of accepting a referral, either:

  • EES is needed. Approval decisions are put on hold until the EES process is completed.
  • EES is not needed. Decision makers can go ahead with their approval process.
  • EES is not needed but conditions must be met.

Conditions might relate to the location or dimensions of the project or mitigation measures, or requirements for further studies or consultation.

More information about determining the need for an EES.

3. Scoping

Requirements for EES studies and report are set.

The matters to be investigated and documented in an EES are set out in scoping requirements issued by the minister.

Draft scoping requirements are prepared following input from the proponent and other agencies. These are released for public comment for at least 15 business days before the final scoping requirements are published.

4. Preparing the EES

The proponent prepares the EES.

The proponent must prepare a quality EES, as well as a study program and consultation plan consistent with the scoping requirements.

A Technical Reference Group (TRG) is appointed to supply advice to the department and the proponent during the preparation of the EES. The TRG includes members from government agencies, local government and statutory authorities.

Learn more about preparing a consultation plan and peer review and quality assurance for an EES.

5. Public review

Exhibition of EES and public submissions.

When the minister is satisfied that the EES is suitable, it is released for public comment for between 20 to 30 business days. During this time, the public can make written submissions.

The minister may appoint an inquiry to evaluate the effects of the project, after reviewing the EES studies and public submissions. The inquiry may take one of 3 forms, depending on how complex the issues are:

  • a desktop review of written submissions
  • a conference of submitters and review of submissions
  • a formal hearing, where the proponent and submitters can speak and present expert witnesses.

Find out more about public review of an EES.

6. Assessment

Minister's assessment of environmental effects.

As the final stage of the EES process, the minister prepares an assessment considering all relevant information including the EES documents, public submissions, the proponent's response and the inquiry report. The minister's assessment is normally provided within 25 business days of the inquiry report being finalised.

The assessment includes findings on the environmental effects, and may conclude that the project:

  • will have an acceptable level of environmental effects; or
  • will not have an acceptable level of environmental effects; or
  • would need major modifications and/or further investigations to set up that acceptable outcomes would be achieved.

More information about the final assessment.

7. Informing decisions

Decision makers consider assessment.

Decision makers must consider the minister's assessment in deciding whether to approve a project under Victorian law or to authorise public works.

While recommendations are authoritative, they are not usually binding on decision makers.

Page last updated: 14/06/23


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