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EPA's role in the planning system

EPA advises planning and responsible authorities on planning policies and decisions where there is a potential impact on the environment, amenity and human health due to pollution and waste. This advice is made in accordance with the Planning and Environment Act 1987 (P&E Act).

The P&E Act and planning schemes set out when:

  • planning permit applications must be referred to EPA under section 55 of the P&E Act, and
  • notice of planning permit applications must be given to EPA under section 52 of the P&E Act.

We aim to improve land use and development decisions by:

  • highlighting any significant environmental, amenity and human health risks that a proposal may pose
  • providing science-based advice and information to help inform planning controls and provisions
  • preventing encroachment of proposed sensitive land uses and development on existing industries or other land uses where there may be a conflict
  • recommending or requiring changes to address environmental, amenity and human health risks
  • identifying best-practice techniques to protect Victoria’s environment, amenity and human health; and
  • applying regulatory interventions, where appropriate.

To discuss a planning proposal, please contact one of our planning assessment officers on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC).

For strategic planning matters, email stratplan@epa.vic.gov.au.

How we risk assess strategic and statutory planning proposals

EPA prioritises matters where the public has most to gain from our involvement. When we receive a new planning proposal, the first step is to assess the importance of it, with respect to a number of criteria, including:

  • risk to the environment, amenity and human health
  • preventative value
  • community concern, including that of the responsible/planning authority; and
  • degree of complexity.

Matters that we deem low risk are proportionally assessed and responded to by email or letter. In these cases, EPA relies on the responsible authority to bring attention to any risks or concerns that may have been overlooked.

How EPA is concerned with amenity

EPA is concerned with amenity where it may be unreasonably impacted by pollution and waste, including impacts from noise, odour and litter. Amenity impacts may include, but are not limited to:

  • unreasonable noise disturbances
  • impacted environments that reduce the perceived quality of an area (aesthetics)
  • unreasonable odours being emitted from certain uses that may impact upon the ordinary enjoyment of a person
  • dust and smoke at levels below that which may affect physiological health, but still impact on quality of life.

In this instance, amenity does not refer to issues such as perceived visual bulk, overlooking or overshadowing from a structure, or light pollution.

Pre-application meetings

EPA is willing to meet with council and applicants to discuss proposals where the risks involved in the use/development are considered high. EPA’s assessment of a proposal will be significantly improved by a more thorough appreciation of the development. Additionally, EPA can inform council and the applicant of environmental and human health considerations that need to be assessed or considered, before a permit is sought.


EPA regularly presents at, or supports, training and professional events, including PLANET training courses. Future training and education sessions will be advertised through professional planning networks, including Planning Institute of Australia (PIA), and Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV).

For more information, contact us on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC).

Our planning team

EPA’s planning team is based in Carlton, Dandenong, Bendigo, Wangaratta, Traralgon and Geelong. The team includes statutory planners, strategic planners, planning policy officers and a number of roles dedicated to business improvement.


In May 2015, the Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water appointed a Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) to undertake an independent inquiry into the EPA. The MAC examined the EPA’s role, powers, governance and funding, and tools. The MAC made several recommendations, with respect to EPA’s involvement within land use planning, all of which were supported in the Government’s response.

EPA is implementing the Victorian Government’s vision of a more agile, modern environmental regulator. Read about how EPA is changing.

Read next

For more information about the Victorian planning system, see www.planning.vic.gov.au

Planning guidance 

Ministerial Direction 19

Ministerial Direction No. 1

Strategic planning

Statutory planning

Key planning guidance and EPA guidelines

Land and groundwater - advice for planning authorities

Guidance on works approvals and licences


This page was copied from EPA's old website. It was last updated on 26 June 2019.

Reviewed 25 August 2021