One of the main reasons for getting an environmental audit is to comply with local government planning system requirements. Proposed updates for Victoria's land use planning system to integrate the new Environment Protection Act 2017 are in progress. These should take effect 1 July 2021.
About environmental audits and planning decisions
The type of environmental assessment for a planning scheme amendment or permit depends on the:
- land’s proposed use
- land’s potential for contamination.
Planning authorities enforce the Planning and Environment Act 1987 and under this the Ministerial Direction No.1 – Potentially Contaminated Land. This requires planning authorities to ensure potentially contaminated land is suitable for proposed changes to planning schemes.
When the proposed use of potentially contaminated land is sensitive, planning authorities must ask for an environmental audit. Examples of sensitive land use include:
- childcare centres
- primary schools.
When assessing planning permit applications, planning authorities may make decisions based on the outcome of environmental audits. These are usually 53X audits. Under the current Environment Protection Act 1970, the outcome would be either a certificate or statement of environmental audit.
Planning officers need to apply to the planning permit any conditions or recommendations made in the environmental audit. Enforcing these conditions or recommendations is also local government’s responsibility.
How environmental audit overlays work
Local government can apply an environmental audit overlay (EAO) to a site under the Victoria Planning Provisions. It shows that a site is potentially contaminated and requires an environmental audit if its proposed use is sensitive.
An EAO doesn’t prevent an assessment and approval of a planning scheme amendment. However, it does prevent the approval of planning permits. Removal of an EAO occurs when an audit outcome confirms land isn’t contaminated.
For more information see the Planning practice note: Potentially contaminated land.
About government oversight and review of site assessments
Local government often requests site assessments. You would engage an environmental consultant to perform these. EPA doesn’t regulate site assessments and EPA-appointed auditors don’t provide oversight of these assessments.
Reviewed 4 August 2020