There are two kinds of environmental audits available under the Environment Protection Act 1970

  • 53X 
  • 53V. 

What 53X environmental audits are for

A 53X audit mainly applies when there’s a proposed new sensitive use for potentially contaminated land, see Ministerial Direction No.1. For example, when there’s a proposal to develop residential properties on industrial land. This audit also applies to land subject to an environmental audit overlay (EAO) within a planning scheme

You may need a 53X audit for a: 

  • planning authority from local government 
  • planning permit 
  • landowner or land occupier to satisfy due-diligence requirements.  

This audit involves assessing the land’s condition, including a site history review and site investigation through a sampling program. The sampling program could include soil, water and air or vapour. From this assessment, a 53X audit determines if land is suitable for: 

  • industrial or commercial use
  • residential, including low density dwelling or high density building
  • open space or recreation
  • agriculture  
  • parks and reserves.  

Outcome of a 53X audit

The outcome of a 53X environmental audit is either a certificate or a statement.  

About 53X certificates of environmental audits

A certificate of environmental audit shows the land is suitable for any use. This means there are no restrictions on the use of the site due to its environmental condition. 

About 53X statements of environmental audits

A statement of environmental audit indicates the site is: 

  • suitable for nominated uses, or 
  • not suitable for any use at all.  

In some cases, the nominated uses might be subject to conditions and/or limitations. Local government is responsible for enforcing these 53X audit conditions. A statement will outline any risks relating to the site and conditions to manage the risks. An owner or occupier must use the site in a way that’s consistent with the statement.  

When an assessment finds land contamination, a 53X audit statement will include the: 

  • uses for which the site is suitable  
  • conditions to manage the risks for the site, if required 
  • nature of the contamination, which you need to remove before a certificate can be issued.  

An owner who has a statement of environmental audit must provide a copy of the statement to any person:   

  • who proposes to move onto the site
  • occupying the site. 

What 53V environmental audits are for

A 53V audit is for understanding the risk to human health and environment an industrial activity poses. It can assess the risk of possible harm to a site caused by, but not limited to: 

  • an industrial process 
  • waste substance 
  • noise.  

A 53V audit can also: 

  • recommend that groundwater monitoring, a 53X statement condition, can end 
  • demonstrate compliance with an EPA licence. 

Planning permit applications relating to a site in a landfill buffer zone may require a 53V audit. When this is the case, a planning authority, such as local government, will require you to obtain a 53V audit. 

Outcome of a 53V audit

The outcome of a 53V audit is an audit report. The audit report has recommendations for ongoing land management. This is to minimise the risks identified, or for further investigation to confirm risks. 

EPA audit process is changing

The Environment Protection Act 1970 applies until the Environment Protection Act 2017 takes effect, which is intended to be on 1 July 2021.

Find out more about audits under the new laws

Read next

Environmental audits overview (for s53x audits only) (publication 1609)

Environmental auditing

About environmental audits 

EPA's role in environmental auditing

About environmental auditors

Choosing an environmental auditor

Appointment of environmental auditors

Environmental audits and the planning system

Environmental audits under the new laws

Preliminary risk screen assessments

Find an environmental audit report

Find an environmental auditor

Reviewed 17 July 2020