A preliminary risk screen assessment (PRSA) helps decide whether a site needs an environmental audit. It is not a replacement for an environmental audit. 

What does it do?

  • Checks whether contaminated land is likely to be present at a site.
  • Determines if a site needs an environmental audit for its proposed use.
  • If an audit is required, the PRSA will recommend the scope of that audit.


A PRSA does not confirm the suitability of a site for its existing or proposed use. Only an environmental audit can do this.


Although a PRSA forms an important part of our environmental audit system, it is not a replacement for an environmental audit. 

A PRSA can help support planning decisions or approvals. However, it cannot determine if land meets the definition of potentially contaminated land under the land-use planning framework. It cannot determine a site’s suitability for its existing or proposed use. Only an environmental audit can do this.

When is a PRSA required?

The need for a PRSA arises under specific circumstances. They may be voluntarily undertaken by the landowner or occupier, or it may be mandatory, as part of a planning requirement or permit condition.

Common scenarios when a PRSA may be needed:

  • New developments: When a new development is proposed on a site where contamination is possibly present, a PRSA helps determine if the project poses any potential risks.
  • Sub dividing large agricultural sites: Large farmlands may require a PRSA to find areas that may have been contaminated and are likely to need an environmental audit. The PRSA helps assess which sections of land are contaminated and separates it from areas that do not need an audit.

Land-use planning and PPN30

A planning control is the most common reason that a PRSA is required. This might be due to an environmental audit overlay, a permit condition or to support a planning scheme amendment. For more information please refer to Planning Victoria’s Planning Practice Note 30 (PPN30).

Who performs a PRSA

If you require a PRSA for your site, you can engage either:

  • An EPA-appointed environmental auditor (contaminated land) to carry out both the preliminary site investigation and complete the PRSA report and statement.
  • An environmental consultant to carry out the preliminary site investigation, and then an EPA-appointed environmental auditor to complete the PRSA report and statement.


Only an EPA-appointed environmental auditor (contaminated land) can prepare a PRSA report and statement.


We have produced a guide on how to choose an environmental auditor and we maintain a register of contact details for environmental auditors (contaminated land).

Please note that EPA does not select or engage an environmental auditor to undertake a PRSA for you. Neither do we control the progress of a PRSA once it begins. It is an independent process.

The PRSA process

Depending on the size and history of the site, a PRSA can take several weeks or months to complete.

Preliminary site investigation

The first step is a review of the site’s history and current land use. It helps identify possible sources of contamination.

An environmental consultant or an EPA-appointed environmental auditor can carry out this step.

Targeted sampling and its limits

The site investigation may also include limited and targeted sampling of soil, soil vapour or groundwater. This sampling is only to confirm that contamination is not present. Sampling should not cover the whole site or test for lots of chemicals.

Auditor review and decision

Once a site assessment is complete, an independent EPA-appointed environmental auditor will prepare a PRSA statement and report.

About PRSA statements

These statements are a short-form summary of key information and outcomes. Each statement area aligns with existing or proposed title boundaries (exceptions may apply).

It must include:

  • all matters set out in the assessment’s scope
  • the name of the person who engaged the auditor, and
  • the auditor’s signature and contact details.
  • the scope of the environmental audit (if one is recommended).

An assessment may lead to more than one statement. For example, 2 statements may be produced if a PRSA concludes that one part of the site requires an environmental audit, but another part does not.

About PRSA reports

A report will accompany the PRSA statement. It must contain: 

  • a review of all relevant information collected during the assessment
  • the reasons for the findings in the assessment.

The auditor provides their PRSA statement and report to the party that requested it. A copy must also be provided to EPA Victoria.

If a PRSA statement has been issued for a site, the individual responsible for managing or controlling the site must provide a copy of the statement to anyone who intends to take over the management or control of the site.

Understanding PRSA outcomes

There are 3 possible outcomes of a preliminary risk screen assessment:

  1. Contaminated land is unlikely. No need for an environmental audit.
  2. Contaminated land is likely. No need for an environmental audit as there is no risk of harm based on the proposed site use. Note that site owners or occupiers may still have a duty to manage contaminated land.
  3. Contaminated land is likely. An environmental audit is needed for further assessment.

Resources and further reading

We have produced guidance to help you understand:


Planning Victoria has information on:

Reviewed 31 May 2024