The Environment Reference Standard (ERS) is a new tool made under the Environment Protection Act 2017. The ERS:

  • identifies environmental values that the Victorian community want to achieve and maintain
  • provides a way to assess those environmental values in locations across Victoria
  • has indicators and objectives to measure people’s actions against these values.

It isn’t a compliance standard, so it doesn’t: 

  • create any obligations on duty holders
  • define any fixed environmental standards for enforcement. 

Many of the environmental quality indicators and objectives from the discontinued State Environment Protection Policies (SEPPs) are used in the ERS. These include:


  • Ambient air

    The ERS includes standards from the Ambient Air Quality SEPP, plus a new objective for odour. Because odour is of significant concern to the community it’s recognised in the ERS.
  • Ambient sound

    Most beneficial uses from Noise SEPPs 1 and 2 are  in the ERS. It also includes new environmental values for: 

    • child learning and development
    • human tranquillity and enjoyment in natural areas.

    New indicators and objectives are also in place to assess these values.

  • Land

    The ERS includes updated standards from the Prevention and Management of Contaminated Land SEPP.
  • Water

    The ERS includes standards from the recently reviewed Waters SEPP.

Reviewed 21 December 2020