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The EES process is intended to inform decision-making required for projects to proceed under Victorian legislation. When deciding an EES is required the Minister directs relevant decisionmakers to not make decisions until an EES is prepared and the Minister has issued an assessment under the Act and it has been considered by the decision-makers.
Where an EES is required, the Act extends any prescribed time limit within which relevant statutory decisions must be made by one month after the
decision-maker receives the Minister’s assessment. Where multiple statutory decisions will be informed by the Minister’s assessment and statutory
applications are being prepared in conjunction with the EES, coordination between the relevant authorities should commence early via participation
in the TRG. The TRG should provide clear advice from their organisation on statutory requirements.
To facilitate timely decision-making, the department coordinates the EES with related statutory approval procedures, with advice from the TRG. This may include:
- using the state’s accredited EES or environment report process, as the required assessment process under the EPBC Act bilateral agreement;
- coordinating exhibition and public notification of statutory applications in conjunction with advertising and exhibiting the EES;
- coordinating inquiry procedures under the Act with equivalent procedures under other Victorian legislation, for example the Planning and Environment Act 1987; and
- providing specific advice in the Minister’s assessment to inform relevant statutory and other decisions, under other Victorian legislation.
What do other Acts require?
Projects subject to the assessment under the Environment Effects Act can require one or more of a range of statutory decisions under Victorian
legislation before they can proceed. Interactions between the Environment Effects Act and laws that most commonly regulate projects assessed under
the Environment Effects Act are outlined on the next page.
Planning and Environment Act 1987
The Planning and Environment Act regulates the use and development of land and sets requirements for permits and planning scheme amendments.
Section 4 of this Act establishes the objectives of planning in Victoria and provides for the Victoria planning provisions. The Victoria planning provisions
sets the state-wide planning policy for Victoria, while each council’s planning scheme establishes an individual municipal planning strategy and local
planning policy framework. Together, the municipal planning strategy and planning policy framework consisting of state, regional and local planning policy, guide planning for decision-making. This framework is also a key reference for the evaluation of projects subject to assessment under the Environment Effects Act.
Where a project requires a planning scheme amendment and an EES, the proposed amendment may be exhibited concurrently with the EES. An
inquiry appointed under section 9(1) of the Environment Effects Act to consider the exhibited EES and submissions is also appointed as an advisory committee or panel under the Planning and Environment Act, to consider the proposed amendment. The joint inquiry and advisory
committee/panel will provide a single report to the Minister.
If a planning permit is needed for a project, the permit application should be exhibited in conjunction with an EES. To facilitate integrated planning for
projects of state or regional significance, the Minister may ‘call-in’ permit applications under section 97B of the Planning and Environment Act. A permit ‘call-in’ requires a panel to be appointed under section 153 of the Planning and Environment Act to consider any submissions or objections. Where assessment under the Environment Effects Act is required, such a panel would be jointly appointed as an inquiry.
Environment Protection Act 2017
This Act provides the legislative framework for environmental obligations and protections for all Victorians, with a focus on a prevention-based approach for risks of harm to human health and the environment from pollution and waste.
The legislative framework includes various subordinate instruments, the general environmental duty, principles of environment protection, a framework for management of waste, and establishes a permissions scheme to grant development licences, operating licences, pilot project licences, permits (including in relation to tunnel boring machine spoil) and registrations.
A project may require a permission from the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) under the Environment Protection Act before development can
proceed. Before operation of a facility can commence, an operating licence from the EPA may also be required. To minimise duplication, the EPA
and the department should advise proponents on the level of detail required in the development licence application and EES regarding technical design and operational aspects, as well as on the EES studies.
The development licence application will normally be exhibited in conjunction with the EES for a project. Formal assessment of the application by the EPA would follow receipt of the Minister’s assessment under the Environment Effects Act. The Environment Protection Act provides that where the EPA’s decision with respect to a development licence application is substantially in accordance with an assessment under the Environment Effects Act, third parties are not able to seek a review of the decision by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Climate Change Act 2017
This Act provides the framework for the Victorian Government’s climate change response, including emissions reduction and adaptation to the impacts of climate change. The Act establishes a long-term target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It also requires the Victorian Government to set interim emissions reduction targets for five-year periods until 2050 in order to reach net zero. The Act requires publication of a climate change strategy and adaptation action plan every five years.
Section 17 requires that certain decision-makers must have regard to climate change in relation to decisions or actions listed in Schedule 1 to the Act.
This includes decisions by the EPA relating to permissions under the Environment Protection Act. Section 20 of the Act provides that the Government
of Victoria will endeavour to ensure that any decision made by the Government and any policy, program or process developed or implemented by the
Government appropriately takes account of climate change if it is relevant by having regard to the policy objectives and the guiding principles set out in the Act.
Geothermal Energy Resources Act 2005
This Act provides a framework for the large-scale commercial exploration and extraction of geothermal energy. Geothermal energy is vested in the Crown. Section 62 states that a planning permit is not required to carry out any geothermal energy extraction operation if an EES has been prepared
and the Minister administering the Act has authorised the operation following consideration of the assessment of the Minister administering the Environment Effects Act.
Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990
This Act provides a legislative framework for the development and regulation of the mineral exploration, mining and extractive industries. The Act applies to all stone and mineral resources, including gold, coal, and mineral sands.
Environmental effects processes are integrated with mining approvals under the Act. An approved work plan under section 40A and a mining licence under section 42 are required before mining can take place. An approved work plan under section 77G and a work authority under section 77I are required before an extractive industry can be carried out. These sections enable consideration of any assessment of the Minister administering the Environment Effects Act of the proposed mining and extractive industry proposals as part of the approvals processes. This integrated process also applies to work plan variations under section 41 and section 77H of the Act. Section 42(7) (mining) and section 77T (extractive industries) state that a planning permit is not required for mining or extractive industries if an EES has been prepared for those works and a mining licence (for mining) or a work authority (for extractive industries) has been granted following the Minister for Resources’ consideration of the assessment of the Minister administering the Environment Effects Act.
Section 42A (mining) and section 77HC (extractive industries) of the Act establish a special process that may apply to variations to approved work plans for works that have been assessed under the Environment Effects Act. This process enables variations to be approved without the requirement to
obtain a planning permit even if the new work will cause significant additional environmental impacts, provided an environment report is prepared on the
additional environmental impacts, exhibited for public comment, and the final variation approved by the Minister for Resources substantially complies with any requirements recommended by the assessment of the Minister administering the Environment Effects Act.
Pipelines Act 2005
This Act applies to the construction and operation of high-pressure pipelines for certain energy and other industrial products. Part 5 of the Pipelines Act
outlines the pipeline licence process. If a project requires a pipeline licence, Section 33 allows the notice of application for a pipeline licence to be
coordinated with EES exhibition. An inquiry appointed under the Environment Effects Act can be jointly appointed as a panel under Section 40 of the
Pipelines Act to consider submissions relating to a pipeline licence application. Mirroring the obligation under Section 8C of the Environment Effects Act, Section 49 of the Pipelines Act requires that the responsible Minister, when determining a pipeline licence application, must consider any assessment of
the Minister administering the Environment Effects Act in relation to the proposed pipeline.
Petroleum Act 1998
This Act provides a framework for the regulation of onshore petroleum exploration and development activities (excluding transmission pipelines). Section 120 states that a planning permit is not required to carry out a petroleum production operation if an EES has been prepared and the Minister administering the Act has authorised the operation following consideration of the assessment of the Minister administering the Environment Effects Act.
Greenhouse Gas Geological Sequestration Act 2008
This Act covers onshore exploration for greenhouse gas storage sites and the injection and monitoring of greenhouse gas substance activities. Section 191 states that a planning permit is not required to carry out greenhouse gas substance injection and monitoring operation if an EES has been prepared and the Minister administering the Act has authorised the operation following consideration of the assessment of the Minister administering the
Environment Effects Act.
Marine and Coastal Act 2018
This Act provides for strategic planning for the management of marine and coastal areas, through the development of a state-wide marine and coastal strategy and through coastal action plans for specific areas.
Section 65 of the Act requires the consent of the responsible Minister for the use and development of marine and coastal Crown land, including Crown land in Victorian waters and 200 metres inland of the high-water mark. Many coastal or marine projects that are subject to the EES process may also require approval under this Act.
Heritage Act 2017
This Act provides for the protection and conservation of the cultural heritage of Victoria. It creates a framework to identify places of state heritage
significance, and of historical archaeological value. It also establishes the processes for obtaining approvals for changes to those places and enforcing
compliance. An EES is to include an assessment of effects on historical cultural heritage where relevant as specified in scoping requirements. Projects that are subject to the EES process may also require permits under Section 93 of the Act or consents under Section 124 of the Act.
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth)
The EPBC Act may apply to projects in Victoria independently of whether a referral or indeed assessment is required under the Environment Effects Act. A project is a ‘controlled action’ under the EPBC Act if it is considered to have or likely to have a significant impact on any matter of national environmental significance protected under the EPBC Act. If a project is a controlled action under the EPBC Act, it requires assessment and approval under the EPBC Act.
When a project is a controlled action under the EPBC Act and requires assessment under the Environment Effects Act, it is possible to rely upon a single assessment process, removing overlap and inconsistency. Victorian assessment processes such an EES or environment report are accredited under the bilateral agreement between the Australian and Victorian governments, helping to avoid duplication and align environmental decision-making on the project. Proponents should coordinate referral of their project under the EPBC Act and Environment Effects Act to the Commonwealth and Victorian Ministers to enable a timely decision on the use of an accredited assessment process. This helps ensure scoping requirements identify the matters relevant to both the state and potential EPBC Act requirements. When an accredited state assessment is completed for a project, the Minister’s assessment is considered by the commonwealth minister when determining whether to approve it under the EPBC Act.
Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006
This Act provides for the protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria. Under Section 49 of the Act, all projects assessed through the preparation of an EES are required to prepare a Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP).
An EES is to include an assessment of effects on Aboriginal cultural heritage including cultural values where relevant as specified in scoping requirements. A CHMP would typically be prepared in parallel with an EES and whilst some information would be common between the CHMP and the EES, it is not necessary for the CHMP to be completed prior to EES exhibition. Additionally, certain Aboriginal cultural heritage places and values may be confidential and therefore not able to be presented in a publicly exhibited EES.
The Minister’s assessment should inform CHMP approval decisions under the Act by the RAP (where designated) or First Peoples – State Relations.
Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988
This Act provides for the listing of taxa (genera, species, subspecies and varieties), threatened communities of flora and fauna, potentially threatening processes and the designation of critical habitat. Under Section 48 of the Act, a licence or permit is required to take or remove protected flora, and under Section 53, a licence or permit is required to take fish that belong to a listed taxon or community. Projects in natural environments that aresubject to the EES process may also require approval under this Act
A new section of the Act (section 4B) contains an obligation or duty on public authorities and ministers to consider the objectives of the Act and potential
biodiversity impacts when exercising their functions, reflecting the Victorian Government’s commitment to embed biodiversity considerations in government decision making.
Page last updated: 01/12/23