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In specifying the procedures and requirements for an EES, the Minister will determine the form and extent of the public review for an EES.

The public review process may include:

  • public notice of the EES
  • exhibition of the EES for a specified period no less than 30 business days
  • receipt of public submissions
  • an inquiry by public hearing.

5.1 Exhibition

The EES will be exhibited for a period of no less than 30 business days. In exceptional circumstances the Minister may decide that a longer period of exhibition is warranted.

Public notice of the EES exhibition will be required:

  • in the daily metropolitan newspapers
  • in a national newspaper, if the works are subject to Commonwealth legislation
  • to be posted on the planning website.

The notice must be in a form acceptable to the Minister and include details of:

  • the proponent
  • the scope of the project
  • the location of exhibited material and the availability of documents for purchase; *the timeframe for submissions; and * where submissions should be sent. The proponent will place the advertisements and pay for the costs of advertising.

Exhibition of an EES should allow for access to documentation by interested members of the public.

The proponent should at least:

  • ensure the EES is downloadable from the proponent’s website
  • ensure a readable EES online version is linked from the proponent’s website
  • make printed and/or electronic versions of the EES available for purchase.

Prices for copies of the EES main report and appendices should be set at a level to enable effective access by interested parties. Copies of the EES Summary are to be made available by the proponent free-of-charge to interested parties.

If advertising of the EES coincides with applications for statutory approvals, joint advertising will be coordinated. The form of any joint notice, as well as the period and locations of document exhibition, should satisfy the requirements of the EES process.

5.2 Submissions

Submissions should be received by the advertised closing date. They will normally be treated as public documents and uploaded to a publicly accessible web site by Planning Panels Victoria.

They will be available to be inspected and used by officers, persons responsible for the conduct of an inquiry process, the proponent and other interested parties. In exceptional circumstances, submitters may request their submission or parts of their submission to be treated on a confidential basis (for instance, for reasons of commercial confidentiality or cultural sensitivity).

If statutory approvals applications have been jointly advertised with the EES, we will put in place arrangements for coordinated receipt and circulation of submissions with the relevant agencies.

Proponent response to public submissions

To assist the resolution of issues raised in public review, the proponent should produce a document responding to issues raised. The response should be distributed as part of the inquiry’s exchange of documents. In some circumstances a proponent may seek to negotiate a resolution to particular issues (for example, mitigation measures) with submitters. It is advisable that negotiation take place prior to the commencement of the inquiry.

5.3 Inquiry

The Minister may appoint one or more persons, nominated by Planning Panels Victoria, to conduct an inquiry into the SRL works’ potential environmental effects. The inquiry will be subject to terms of reference issued by the Minister.

The proponent is responsible for the costs of an inquiry and public hearing. The inquiry may conduct formal hearings to allow proponents to speak about their proposal and submitters to speak about their submissions in-depth. Expert witnesses may make presentations and questions of clarification may be asked of all parties.

The inquiry’s terms of reference will require it to:

  • review and consider the EES and public submissions received in relation to the environmental effects of the project
  • conduct a public hearing to hear from the proponent and any submitters that wish to be heard
  • draw conclusions on the potential environmental effects of the project, their significance and acceptability, having regard to the evaluation objectives in the EES scoping requirements and prevailing policy and legislation
  • identify any measures it considers necessary and effective to avoid, mitigate or manage the environmental effects of the project within acceptable limits
  • report its findings and recommendations to the Minister, for consideration by the Minister in making an assessment of the SRL project’s environmental effects.

Where appropriate, an inquiry may:

  • convene special sessions of parties to seek agreement about the nature of disputed issues or preferred responses
  • convene special sessions of expert witnesses to establish a shared understanding of complex scientific or technical matters.

An inquiry may be appointed where a similar process is required under another act (such as the Planning and Environment Act 1987) for the SRL project being assessed. In that case, a combined panel/inquiry process will be followed. If necessary, the procedures for the inquiry under the Environment Effects Act will be adjusted to avoid conflict with the statutory requirements of the other process.

The inquiry will normally provide its report to the Minister within 30 business days from the close of public hearings. The inquiry’s report will be publicly released at the same time as the Minister’s assessment.

Page last updated: 09/06/23