Advisory note
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Conducting both an environmental risk assessment and an impact assessment is a good way to identify and prioritise potential environmental issues and effects that your project might have.

Your EES must contain a clear description of the likely environmental impacts/effects of your proposed project. The EES should identify, assess and clearly characterise/describe likely environmental impacts/effects, rather than environmental risks.

Using a risk-based approach

The ministerial guidelines encourage a risk-based approach be adopted when assessing the environmental impacts of a project. This allows suitable methods or strategies to be applied where there are high risk impacts that carry significant adverse effects.

An environmental risk assessment framework should be used for the EES as the basis for examining and assessing impacts.

The risk assessment framework

When undertaking your risk assessment consider:

  • including the environmental risk assessment process applied
  • itemising and defining each risk
  • using a unique risk number for each risk
  • rating each risk in terms of the impact and/or severity
  • identifying the likelihood of the risk occurring
  • presenting mitigation tactics to help prevent the risk from occurring
  • describing the consequence if the risk actually eventuates
  • including a description of how the risk framework will be integrated with your other systems
  • including a description of how your risks will be continually monitored, reviewed and reported on during the project’s life.

You can choose to include your risk assessment as part of your EES but it is not mandatory.

The impact assessment framework

Your EES must include the key residual impacts of your proposed project. These impacts need to be clearly described and quantified (e.g. expected magnitude, extent and duration) taking into account mitigation/management commitments.

Components of the impact assessment framework could include:

  • a description of direct and indirect impacts
  • a discussion of how the magnitude, extent and duration of impacts will be considered
  • a description of the mitigation hierarchy and how it will be applied
  • a discussion of the steps in the impact assessment process leading to identification of (post mitigation) residual impacts
  • a description of how the significance of residual impacts will be assessed/rated
  • a discussion of how matters of national environmental significance will be assessed (with reference to the relevant guidelines)
  • the approach to assessment of cumulative impacts.

The relationship between both assessments

Describe the relationship between your environmental risk assessment and the impact assessment.

The primary approach to the assessment of impacts and effects in the EES should be that of the impact assessment framework.

Your environmental risk assessment is used to inform the focus of the assessment of impacts.

The environmental risk assessment (if used) should not detract from or confuse the presentation and reader’s understanding of predicted impacts and effects.

Page last updated: 26/06/24