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The Environment Effects Act 1978 provides for environmental impact assessment of proposed project works (herein the Guidelines use the term ‘project’ which is synonymous with ‘works’) capable of having a significant effect on the environment. In Victoria an assessment does not confer approval of a project, rather it informs decision makers when considering project approvals. The Environment Effects Act relies on the referral of proposed projects to the Minister administering the Act for a decision on whether a project proponent is required to undertake an environment effects statement (EES). For the purposes of the Act, the environment is broadly defined. The environment encompasses all physical, biological, social, spiritual and economic systems, processes and attributes.

Environmental impact assessments analyse the potential effects of projects on the environment and the means of avoiding, minimising, managing, rehabilitating and offsetting adverse effects. Assessments are prepared in the context of a systems approach, proportionality to risk and ecologically sustainable development. Transparency, public involvement and the community’s opportunity to respond to proposals are vital elements of the assessment process.

Victoria supports a tiered and flexible approach to assessment of proposed projects capable of having a significant effect on the environment. An EES is the state’s most rigorous and transparent environmental assessment and is typically reserved for those projects that require integrated assessment across a range of potential adverse effects. For projects with fewer potential adverse effects or impact assessment that doesn’t require complex integration, a tailored environment report might be appropriate. Where the potentially significant effects of a project are well known, or limited and readily examined through existing statutory requirements, the Minister might condition a project, or not require any assessment under the Act.

These guidelines are made under section 10 of the Environment Effects Act. They supplement the Act by providing the community, decision makers and proponents guidance on the processes and requirements for:

  • referring projects to the Minister
  • assessment scoping, preparing and consulting
  • public review
  • considering public submissions
  • requiring a supplementary statement
  • making the final assessment; and
  • coordinating with other statutory processes.

More information about the Environment Effects Act is available on the department’s website, along with links to active and historic project referrals and assessments.

Objectives that underpin the process

The objective of assessment under the Act is to provide for the transparent, integrated and timely assessment of the environmental effects of projects capable of having a significant effect on the environment. These guidelines bolster that objective by detailing:

  • coordination of the assessment process with other statutory processes to support informed decision making
  • clear and timely input from government agencies on legislative and policy issues
  • proponent accountability for investigating potential (adverse and beneficial) environmental effects and their management
  • public access to information on potential environmental effects as well as fair opportunities for stakeholders and public participation; and
  • a basis for monitoring and evaluating the effects of works to inform environmental management of the works and improve environmental knowledge.

Additional information

Additional technical guidance on aspects of impact assessment and processes under the Environment Effects Act is also available on the department’s website.

Page last updated: 26/06/24