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When might a Supplementary Statement be needed?

The Minister may ask the proponent to provide additional information regarding particular matters, if this is needed in order to make an assessment. Where the required information will involve extensive investigations, the Minister may formally call for a Supplementary Statement to be prepared. The proponent may be directed to prepare a Supplementary Statement at any point between the exhibition of the EES and the making of an assessment. The Minister can specify the procedures to be applied for a Supplementary Statement and any requirements regarding the scope of the statement.

The Minister will exercise discretion in determining whether the public is invited to provide comments on a Supplementary Statement. The invitation to provide comments might be limited where a Supplementary Statement addresses localised issues.

What is the Minister’s assessment?

An assessment of the environmental effects of a proposal is the final step in the process. Often referred to as the ’Minister’s assessment‘, this step determines whether the likely environmental effects of a project are acceptable. It will provide:

  • findings on the potential magnitude, likelihood and significance of adverse and beneficial environmental effects of the project
  • conclusions regarding any modifications to a project or any environmental management measures that are needed to address likely adverse effects or environmental risks
  • evaluation of the overall significance of likely adverse effects and environmental risks of the project, relative to likely benefits of the project, within the context of applicable legislation, policy, strategies and guidelines.

The Minister’s assessment will involve consideration of:

  • the EES and any Supplementary Statement
  • public submissions, the proponent’s response to submissions, and supporting information from the proponent or submitters
  • any inquiry report
  • other information provided by the proponent at the request of the persons appointed to conduct an inquiry, the Department or the Minister
  • the objectives and principles of ecologically sustainable development, as well as applicable legislation, policy, strategies and guidelines.

What can a Minister’s assessment say?

The Minister’s assessment may conclude that:

  • a project (with or without limited modifications) would have an acceptable level of environmental effects, having regard to overall project outcomes; or
  • a project would have an unacceptable level of environmental effects; or
  • a project would need major modifications and/or further investigations in order to establish that an acceptable level of environmental outcomes would be achieved. In this latter situation, a further assessment process under the Act may be required.

If the Minister’s assessment concludes that a project would have an acceptable level of environmental effects, it may provide advice on project implementation and environmental management measures, including:

  • opportunities for incorporating necessary measures in conditions of particular statutory approvals or in binding agreements
  • coordinating different aspects of the environmental management regime to ensure an integrated approach for achieving acceptable environmental outcomes
  • recommended approaches to environmental monitoring and management, including further public involvement.

When will a Minister’s assessment be provided?

The Minister’s assessment is normally provided to decision- makers and the proponent within 25 business days of receiving the report of an inquiry or within 50 business days from the close of the exhibition period of an EES if an inquiry is not appointed.

Does a Minister’s assessment bind decision-makers?

Relevant decision-makers are required to consider the Minister’s assessment; however its recommendations are not binding on the decision-maker. To assist in the transparency of the EES process, it is useful for the decision-maker to advise the Minister of the outcome of the decision. Where the decision-maker proposes not to adopt part of the assessment, the decision- maker should consult with the Minister.

How is the public notified of the Minister’s assessment?

The Minister’s assessment will be placed on the Department’s website. This will occur as soon as practicable after the assessment is provided to decision-makers and proponents.

Does the Minister’s assessment require follow-up?

An EES will normally outline a framework for environmental monitoring and management for implementation of a project. The Minister’s assessment will provide advice about the appropriateness of this framework.

Statutory approvals can then incorporate relevant provisions for environmental monitoring and management, preferably within the framework of an environmental management plan. It is possible that several Departments and agencies will have responsibility for enforcing approval conditions, potentially including environmental monitoring, reporting and auditing.

The Minister’s assessment may suggest the establishment of a committee comprising representatives of relevant Departments, statutory authorities and possibly stakeholders to provide a forum for communication about the implementation of an assessed project.

What if there are variations to a project?

Variations to a project during its implementation are common and the response will depend on the circumstances, nature and the scale of any change. Particular circumstances that may arise are:

  • Variations in response to the Minister’s assessment. Such variations may be required to respond to issues that have arisen in the EES process in order to lessen the impact upon the environment. The assessment might also set out further investigations and consultation that should be undertaken before preliminary design plans are endorsed. In some circumstances, revised statutory applications may also be needed.
  • Proponent-initiated variations to enhance project viability, for example, in response to technological or commercial factors. The nature and scale of such changes, and hence appropriate responses, may vary considerably. Where a revised proposal could involve significant ‘new’ effects on the environment, the proponent may need to refer the revised proposal to the Minister for a decision as to whether further assessment is required under the Environment Effects Act.
  • Variations in response to specific requirements by decision- makers.

Page last updated: 13/06/23