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EPA guidelines

EPA has a range of policies and guidelines for planning and responsible authorities under the Planning and Environment Act 1987 (P&E Act), which are available on the publications section of our website. Relevant documents include, but are not limited to, the following:



Air and odour


EPA is continuing to develop planning advice and guidelines for planning and responsible authorities to assist in better land use planning outcomes. EPA will engage with relevant stakeholders during the development of new and revised documents. EPA also provides guidance more generally on legislation administered by EPA (including state environment protection policies, waste management policies) and guidance for businesses on a range of environmental issues.

Key guidance relevant to planning

EPA’s planning strategy aims to prevent future environmental impacts through good land use planning. EPA recognises that good planning is one of the most effective ways of preventing environmental impacts. For example, planning can ensure there is an appropriate distance between incompatible uses and that necessary environmental measures are imposed via planning permit conditions, thereby reducing the need for future compliance work. If you are considering establishing a new facility or expanding an existing facility, you may require a planning permit. Environmental issues may not be immediately obvious. For example, surrounding industrial or rural land may be earmarked for future residential development, requiring a higher level of amenity protection.

EPA recommends that you consider and address any environmental impacts (including amenity impacts) associated with your proposal early, before making any significant investments. Your local council will be able to answer any queries.

Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018

On 1 July 2020, the Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 (the Act) comes into force. This is the single greatest overhaul of environment protection legislation in Victoria since the tabling of the Environment Protection Act 1970.

The legislation will enhance the protection of Victoria's environment and human health through a more proportionate, risk-based environment protection framework that includes:

Read an overview of the key changes (PDF).

Potentially contaminated land

Where a development is proposed on potentially contaminated land, Ministerial Direction 1 (PDF), Planning Practice Note 30 (PDF) and the State Environment Protection Policy (Prevention and Management of Contamination of Land) should be referenced, where appropriate. More information can be found at our land and groundwater guidance: advice for planning authorities page.

Buffers and encroachment and sensitive uses

Recommended separation distances for industrial air emissions (EPA publication 1518) provides advice on recommended separation distances between industrial land uses that emit odour or dust, and sensitive land uses. EPA is working on multiple projects that seek to better manage encroachment onto buffers and conflicting land uses. Please note that Clause 53.10 of the Victorian Planning Provisions (VPP) is different in its intent to EPA Publication 1518. Specifically, Cl.53.10 sets up threshold triggers, for referral to EPA, where a new industry is proposed in proximity to a sensitive use. While these threshold distances relate to a potential odour or noise risk, they do not always coincide with established separation distances.

Residential encroachment on critical industries

Increasing urban development in Victoria is leading to residential areas being built closer to existing industry. With Melbourne’s population estimated to increase to be 7.7 million by 2051, EPA recognises that residential development will need to increase. However, residential encroachment and intensification near critical industrial facilities can impact on the health and amenity of future residents as well as the viability of these industries. If you are concerned about the encroachment of residential or other incompatible land uses, EPA recommends that you engage with the relevant developer and council to explain your concerns. You may also object in writing to planning permit applications or rezoning proposals that would allow incompatible uses to be established. The information you can provide about the amenity impacts caused by your business, such as odour and noise, will assist in the best planning decision being made.

EPA is working with key stakeholders in government, the community and industry to ensure that:

  • industries are upgraded or located so they will have minimum off-site impact
  • the health and amenity of new residents are protected from nearby industry through appropriate buffers
  • the viability of key industries is not threatened
  • strategic planning recognises and manages encroachment.

Assessing planning proposals near landfills

Landfills are an important part of Victoria’s waste management infrastructure. However, they can continue to impact the surrounding environment and community long after they have ceased operating.

Assessing planning proposals within the buffer of a landfill (EPA publication 1642) provides advice on assessing planning permit applications and planning scheme amendments that would lead to development within the buffer of an operating or closed landfill. The publication recommends a staged, risk-based approach consistent with Landfill Best Practice Environmental Management (EPA Publication 788.3).

Importantly, Publication 1642 recommends that responsible and planning authorities contact EPA for site specific advice where a landfill is operating nearby, before recommending a Section 53V audit. In some instances, EPA has taken the position that sensitive uses should be prohibited outright in a landfill buffer until the landfill ceases operation, rather than allow sensitive uses subject to a Section 53V audit. In some recent cases, even where an audit has been completed for a proposal within an operating landfill buffer, EPA has objected to the subsequent planning permit application, as the audit has been unable to provide the required certainty for EPA to support the proposal. Therefore, early dialogue with developers and authorities is highly recommended, to inform appropriate land use decision-making around landfills.

Other relevant EPA information on landfills can be found on our landfills page.

Odour environmental risk assessment for Victorian broiler farms

Odour environmental risk assessment for Victorian broiler farms (EPA Publication 1643) outlines existing requirements within the Victorian Code for Broiler Farms 2009 (PDF) (the code) and the State Environment Protection Policy (Air Quality Management) (SEPP (AQM)) to ensure new and expanded broiler farms have minimal odour impacts on nearby residents and communities.

The requirement to submit an odour environmental risk assessment comes from the code, with formal notification established under Cl 66 of the Planning Scheme. The process involves modelling and analysing odour predictions. Where an assessment has been undertaken, EPA will provide advice to the responsible authority about its methodological rigour and the validity of the results. Whenever possible, EPA will advise council if we consider the risk to be acceptable or unacceptable in terms of odour impacts beyond the farm boundary.

The guideline provides advice to odour modellers on conducting an odour assessment in accordance with SEPP (AQM) and presenting the results in a clear and consistent way. It also provides advice to responsible authorities on interpreting such assessments.

Combustible recyclable waste materials

See the managing combustible recyclable and waste materials (CRWM) page for information.

Read next

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

Planning guidance

EPA's role in the planning system

Ministerial Direction 19

Ministerial Direction No. 1

Strategic planning

Statutory planning

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 16 November 2021