Statutory planning is the assessment of planning permit applications for new development proposals and changes to land use activities under the Planning and Environment Act 1987 (P&E Act). This generally involves proposed land use  or development of land.

EPA’s role in statutory planning processes may be as a statutory referral authority, in which case EPA undertakes an application specific assessment of the environmental and human health risks associated with a proposal. EPA may also be provided with notice of an application where EPA may provide advice to support responsible authorities in their decision-making. Councils may notify EPA of any application where there’s a risk to the environment or human health from the effects of pollution and waste.

Statutory planning advice from EPA can lead to better planning outcomes. This includes:

  • preventing incompatible land uses, such as industrial and sensitive land uses
  • better site management through risk assessment and mitigation strategies
  • better siting and design options leading to improved environmental outcomes, for example, protecting our waterways through stormwater management and secondary containment measures
  • reducing the amenity impacts of industrial and commercial activities on the surrounding areas, including noise, odour, and air emissions.

When your application is referred to EPA

EPA is a statutory referral authority and has responsibilities under s.55 of the P&E Act for certain types of applications.

Your planning permit application must be referred to EPA for assessment when it:

  • is for an industry or warehouse listed in clause 53.10 of the Victorian Planning Provisions, when no threshold distance is specified, or if the distance is not met
  • requires a development licence or operating licence under part 4.4 of the Environment Protection Act 2017
  • requires an amendment of a licence under part 4.3 of the Environment Protection Act 2017
  • is for a cattle feedlot with 5000 or more cattle
  • is for extractive industry if the land is to be used for landfill at a future date.

Notification of your planning permit application may be provided to EPA (under s.52 of the P&E Act) at the responsible authority's discretion, if they believe that EPA would have an interest in the proposal.

Assessment by EPA

Our role is to assess statutory planning applications for any impact on the environment, amenity and human health due to pollution and waste. 

Common risks associated with statutory planning applications include:
surface water contamination
groundwater and land contamination
air emissions, including dust.

What happens next

Where EPA is a statutory referral authority EPA may request further information from the applicant within 21 days of receiving a referral. Otherwise, EPA has 28 days from receiving a statutory referral to provide a response before the responsible authority (council) can determine the application.

EPA may consent to a planning permit being issued, consent to a planning permit being issued subject to conditions or EPA may object to a planning permit being issued. Where EPA objects as a determining statutory referral authority, the responsible authority must refuse the planning permit application. 

For notifications of a planning permit application, EPA will undertake a preliminary assessment of risk posed by the proposal to determine if our advice is warranted. EPA are not obliged to respond to these matters.

Read next

Prepare a statutory planning referral to EPA

Land use planning

Strategic planning

Specific land uses

Check if you need a permission

Reviewed 20 February 2023