Environmental audits or Preliminary risk screen assessments(PRSA) help achieve land use planning requirements.
About environmental audits, PRSA and planning decisions

A planning scheme amendment or permit may need an environmental assessment. The type of environmental assessment depends on the land’s:

  • proposed use  
  • potential for contamination.  

Ministerial Direction No.1 – Potentially Contaminated Land (MD1) helps make planning decisions. Planning authorities need to follow MD1  to ensure potentially contaminated land is suitable for the land uses allowed in a zone.

Planning approvals allow land to be used or developed for a particular activity. It is important to make sure the land is suitable for that activity. Potentially contaminated land must be assessed before a decision is made.

Responsible planning authorities (e.g. local council) may need an environmental audit or PRSA. This often occurs with sites proposed for a sensitive land use. Sensitive land uses include:

  • residential land
  • childcare centre
  • pre-school
  • primary school.

The outcome of an environmental audit may influence planning application outcomes.

An environmental audit statement is provided at the end of an environmental audit. The statement may contain recommendations that need to be complied with.  The recommendations must be followed to make the land suitable for the proposed use.

The environmental auditor  must provide a copy of the report and PRSA statement  or environmental audit statement to:

  • EPA within 5 business days of completion
  • the party requesting the audit (usually the site owner)
  • the relevant planning and responsible authority.

How audit statement outcomes can affect planning decisions

An environmental audit statement must outline any risks relating to the site. It must also include recommendations to manage the risks. An owner or occupier must use the site in a way that’s consistent with these recommendations.

The responsible authority may need to consider requirements to action the audit recommendations. For example,  audit statement recommendations could be made into planning permit conditions. 

For further guidance on planning and contaminated land go to Planning Practice Note 30 - Potentially Contaminated Land (DELWP, 2021). 

How Environmental Audit Overlays work

A planning authority can apply the Environmental Audit Overlay (EAO) to land. They do this under the Victoria Planning Provisions. An EAO shows that a site is potentially contaminated. For sites proposed for a sensitive use, either of the following will need to be undertaken:

  • Environmental audit concluding that the land is suitable for the proposed use; or, 
  • A PRSA which concludes that an environmental audit is not required

The EAO allows these processes to be deferred until after approval of the planning scheme amendments. 

Refer to Planning for environment protection for more information on planning and potentially contaminated land.


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Reviewed 3 July 2023