EPA is a statutory referral authority under the Planning and Environment Act

EPA is a statutory referral authority and has responsibilities under the Planning and Environment Act 1987 (PE Act) to provide comment on planning proposals. Proposals will be referred to EPA for comment where there are potential risks to the environment, human health and amenity due to pollution and waste.

EPA statutory planning advice considers environmental and human health risks relating to particular sites and proposals. This includes the location of certain permitted activities (such as encroachment), design and siting issues (such as stormwater containment and bunding), as well as some operational factors (such as hours of operation).

The PE Act and planning schemes set out when:

  • planning permit applications must be referred to EPA under section 55 of the PE Act, and
  • notice of planning permit applications must be given to EPA under section 52 of the PE Act.

Under section 52 (1)(d), responsible authorities may seek the advice of EPA in relation to land use and development proposals where referral or notice of an application is not otherwise required under the PE Act.

Strategic planning

Planning authorities must consider Ministerial directions relevant to environment protection when preparing a planning scheme or an amendment to a planning scheme. These include:

  • Ministerial Direction No. 1 (MD1) – requires planning authorities to satisfy themselves that the environmental conditions of that land are or will be suitable for that use for planning scheme amendments that would allow potentially contaminated land to be used for a sensitive use, agriculture, or public open space. Ministerial Direction No. 1 (PDF, 20.4 KB) or (DOC, 1.7 MB)

    Note: The current Ministerial Direction No. 1 Potentially Contaminated Land will be replaced by an updated direction that incorporates changes in the Environment Protection legislation. More information on contaminated land and planning.
  • Ministerial Direction No. 19 (MD19) - requires planning authorities to seek early advice from EPA when undertaking strategic planning processes and preparing planning scheme amendments that may significantly impact Victoria’s environment, amenity and/or human health due to pollution and waste. Ministerial Direction No. 19 (PDF, 617.3 KB) or (DOCX, 27.9 KB)

When providing strategic planning advice, EPA considers environmental and human health risks relating to broad scale land use planning proposals before decisions are made. Key considerations include compatibility of existing and future land uses, proximity of sensitive receptors, presence of potentially contaminated land and potential impacts on the environment, amenity, and human health.

What to expect from EPA advice

EPA land use planning advice may include:

  • identification of risks of harm to the environment or human health
  • technical advice to support applicants to understand and manage risk
  • reference to relevant EPA guidance (both industry and planning) and other appropriate sources on specific environmental and human health risks related to the proposed land use, locality, and proposed activities, to raise the state of knowledge on risks and risk controls before or when a planning permit decision is made
  • general guidance regarding the general environmental duty (GED) and other statutory obligations under the Environment Protection Act 2017, so that planning applicants may undertake action to minimise risk and steps to satisfy their statutory obligations
  • where relevant, clear and enforceable planning permit conditions that effectively manage risks of harm.

EPA assessment and advice may consider:

  • land use compatibility between existing and future land uses (such as conflicts and interface issues between industry/farming/rural activities and sensitive uses)
  • encroachment risk, including protection of amenity and human health from impacts of existing and proposed industry/farming/rural activities, as well as protection of existing industry from encroachment of sensitive uses, through the application of appropriate separation distances
  • plans to assess/manage/clean up contaminated land and comply with environmental audits
  • potential risks relating to air (including odour and dust), water, noise, and waste
  • the proximity of ‘sensitive land use’ such as accommodation, hospitals, schools, day care facilities, aged care facilities and convalescent facilities
  • how harm to the environment and human health will be eliminated or reduced as part of the proposal.

For more information on what to include with a referral to EPA see EPA’s role in statutory planning.

Page last updated: 01/07/21