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EPA’s role in statutory planning

EPA is a referral authority under Section 55 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 (P&E Act 1987). Pursuant to Clause 66.02 of the Victorian Planning Provisions (VPP), EPA is a determining referral authority for a (use or development) planning permit application that requires any of the following:

  • a works approval in accordance with Section 19A of the Environment Protection Act 1970
  • a licence to discharge or emit waste in accordance with Section 20 of the Environment Protection Act 1970
  • amendment of a licence under Section 20A of the Environment Protection Act 1970
  • land for an industry or warehouse for a purpose listed in the table to Clause 53.10 shown with a Note 1 or if the threshold distance is not to be met
  • stone extraction from land intended to be used for landfill at a future date.

Pursuant to Clause 66.05 of the VPP, we must be notified of the following application, in accordance with Section 52 of the P&E Act 1987: 'an application to use or develop land to establish a new broiler farm, or to increase the farm capacity of an existing broiler farm, that meets the requirements of a Special Class Broiler Farm or Farm Cluster as specified in the Victorian Code for Broiler Farms 2009.'

The planning scheme of a municipality can also establish referral provisions to EPA. These referral requirements are established at a local level, typically in consultation with EPA.

Application document requirements

When referring planning applications to EPA, the responsible authority should provide a complete copy of the application. Section 19 of the Planning & Environment Regulations 2015 outlines what information is required to be given to a referral authority. Requirements include:

  • the application reference number
  • the date the responsible authority received the application
  • a description of why a permit is required
  • a list of the clauses in the planning scheme that require the application to be referred to that referral authority
  • a copy of the applicable description in the planning scheme of the kind of application required to be referred to that referral authority; and
  • clarification of whether the referral authority is a determining referral authority or a recommending referral authority for the application.

Other information that will assist us includes:

  • any relevant history of the site and/or surrounding area, including enforcement actions
  • any other matters that the responsible authority deems relevant.

Application materials should include an assessment of the potential offsite impacts and any proposed measures to address them. EPA can provide guidance on the level of assessment, scope and relevant guidelines. If the information required under Section 19 of the Planning & Environment Regulations 2015 is not supplied, we may not be in a position to respond. In these circumstances, we will request the additional information.

Clause 53.14 – Resource recovery

Clause 53.14-2 of the VPP sets out the application requirements for all land used – or all land proposed to be used and/or developed as a transfer station and/or materials recycling facility. EPA encourages the responsible authority to require information of the applicant that clearly outlines what activity is proposed.

Agent of change (Established in EPA Publication 1518, Section 9)

As per EPA Publication 1518, the ‘agent of change’ is the proponent of the proposed land use that will give rise to the consideration of separation distances.

It is the responsibility of the ‘agent of change’ to provide evidence to the planning or responsible authority that a variation from the recommended separation distance is appropriate. The agent of change must take into account the principles of EPA Publication 1518, the modelling protocol set out in Schedule C to SEPP (Air Quality Management) and any other guideline or code that is applicable to the industry in question.

Proposals for an industrial use

If the proposal is for an industrial use, application documents should, where appropriate, cover:

  • the purpose of the use and the types of processes to be utilised
  • the type and quantity of goods to be stored, processed or provided
  • how land not required for immediate use is to be maintained
  • whether a works approval or waste discharge licence is required
  • whether a notification under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 is required
  • whether a licence under the Dangerous Goods Act 1985 is required
  • whether a fire protection quantity under the Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations 2012 is exceeded
  • the likely effects (if any) on the neighbourhood, including:
    • noise levels;
    • air-borne emissions;
    • emissions to land or water; and
    • traffic, including the hours of delivery and dispatch.

Proposal requirements

The level of information we require will vary for each proposal. It is the applicant’s responsibility to submit adequate information to demonstrate any risks to the environment, human health and amenity are acceptable or manageable. Based on risk (e.g. air, odour, noise) it is likely that permit applicants will need to submit additional information, including:

In some cases, we may need to know an industrial facility’s capacity or annual output. This is particularly relevant for assessing threshold triggers in the Scheduled Premises Regulations and EPA Publication 1518.

How to submit a statutory planning referral to EPA

Responsible authorities should refer relevant planning permit applications to the appropriate EPA region.

Contact us to find your local EPA office.

Permit requirements and management options

When responding to a planning permit referral, EPA will advise the responsible authority that it:

  • does not have concerns
  • does have concerns, which can be addressed by permit conditions; or
  • objects to the proposal for certain reasons which we outline.

Where permit conditions are included as part of our response, they will require either a particular outcome or a particular management approach or will compel a design requirement at the site. Management/design conditions may include:

  • surface treatment including hardstand
  • provision of building enclosures
  • stormwater containment and bunding
  • stacks and flues with adequate velocity for dispersion
  • afterburners and catalytic oxidation; and/or
  • bunding.

Assessment process

Rejecting a referral request

Where a referral request contains insufficient information to complete administrative procedures (in accordance with Section 19 of the Planning and Environment Regulations 2015), EPA will likely reject the referral request. Our planning administration officers will liaise with the responsible authority requesting the required administrative information.

Please note this information, as required by Regulation 19 of the Planning & Environment Regulations 2015 must be received before the statutory timeframes commence.

Requesting further information

Where a referral request contains sufficient information to complete administrative procedures, it will be allocated to a planning assessment officer. Where a risk to the environment and human health has been identified, and it is considered that the proposal or supporting information does not adequately address it, the officer will request further information within 21 days.

Seeking internal advice

EPA officers consult our environmental experts for applications where:

  • the recommended separation distance as per EPA Publication 1518 will not be met
  • sensitive uses will encroach on industry (agent of change principle)
  • technical reports and assessments such as acoustic and air quality assessments have been submitted for review; and
  • there are human health risk assessments that require preparation and/or review.

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

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