Environmental auditing

Q&A on the planning system and environmental audits


Q&A on the planning system and environmental audits + Expand all Collapse all

  • How does the role of the audit system interact with the planning system?

    Ministerial Direction No.1 – Potentially Contaminated Land requires planning authorities, when preparing planning scheme amendments, to satisfy themselves that the environmental conditions of land proposed to be used for a sensitive use (defined as residential, a childcare centre, preschool centre or primary school), agriculture or public open space are, or will be, suitable for that use.

    For example, if land is proposed for a childcare centre and it is potentially contaminated, the planning authority (local council) must ensure the land is suitable for use through an environmental audit.

  • What is an environmental audit overlay?

    Local government can apply an environmental audit overlay (EAO) to a site under the Victoria Planning Provisions. It signals that a site is potentially contaminated and requires an environmental audit before any works commence on that site. However, the audit can be delayed until the site is ready to be redeveloped.

    An EAO does not prevent an assessment and approval of a planning scheme amendment. However, it does prevent planning permits being issued until a 53X audit is completed and a certificate or statement of environmental audit is produced. A 53V audit should not be carried out to address requirements of an EAO, as it does not relate directly to assessing the condition of a contaminated site.

    An EAO can only be removed by an audit occurring or by a planning scheme amendment.

  • Are environmental audits necessary before local government issues planning permits or planning scheme amendments?

    The level of environmental assessment necessary for a planning scheme amendment or permit will depend on the proposed land use and the potential for contamination.

    Local government should consider whether further advice from an expert should be sought to determine the level of assessment required.

    Ministerial Direction No. 1 – Potentially Contaminated Land specifies that it is necessary to undertake an environmental audit, resulting in a certificate or statement, on land that is contaminated or potentially contaminated where owners/occupiers plan to use that land for a sensitive use, such as a school.

  • Does EPA regulate site assessments?

    EPA does not regulate site assessments. Site assessments do not have the same level of assurance as an audit. Site assessments are generally requested by a local government and undertaken by an environmental consultant.

  • Does local government have to review environmental audits before allowing works to commence?

    Local government planners do not need to review the audit prior to issue; they only need to review the audit outcome. They do need to be aware whether a certificate or statement has been issued and what the conditions of a statement are. Statement conditions must be transferred to the planning permit.

  • What other guidance documents are relevant to planning authorities?

    EPA and the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) have a guidance document relating to potential site contamination, to assist local government when preparing a planning scheme amendment or issuing a planning permit.

    The Planning practice note: Potentially contaminated land outlines key points from the Planning and Environment Act, Ministerial Direction No.1 – Potentially Contaminated Land and the State Environment Protection Policy (Prevention and Management of Contamination of Land) and describes how the environmental audit system can be used within the planning system.

Page last updated on 3 Dec 2013