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What significant impacts does EPA consider

When considering strategic planning matters, EPA is particularly interested in:

  • the public value of the proposal and any environmental, amenity and human health impacts associated with it
  • land use compatibility between existing and future land uses (e.g. conflicts and interface issues between industry/farming/rural activities and sensitive uses)
  • encroachment risk, including impacts to existing industry/farming/rural activities and protecting separation distances of existing industry from encroachment of sensitive uses
  • what plans are in place to assess/manage/clean up contaminated land and comply with environmental audits
  • potential consequences for air quality, noise, odour and waste
  • the impact any future development may have on the environment, amenity and human health
  • the proximity of ‘sensitive receptors’ such as accommodation, hospitals, schools, daycare facilities, aged care facilities and convalescent facilities
  • how sensitive uses will be protected as part of the proposal.

Human health and amenity impacts can be contextual. For example, some industrial activities may only have a significant impact on the environment, human health and amenity if there are residences nearby. Wherever possible, EPA Victoria’s advice is based on a technical assessment of risk, using regulations, policy and guidance to inform the degree of risk posed and the controls required to address this risk. A list of relevant documents can be found on the planning guidelines page.

When planning authorities should seek advice from EPA

Ministerial Direction 19 (MD19) requires planning authorities to seek early advice from EPA to provide greater certainty to government, community and developers. This approach provides an early opportunity to address potential issues and can assist planning authorities by reducing delays later in the planning scheme amendment process.

MD19 requires that the written views of EPA must be received prior to authorisation of an amendment. We would also encourage planning authorities to contact us as early as possible, preferably when a proposal is taking shape. This can be done by writing to EPA through stratplan@epa.vic.gov.au.

Contact should be made with EPA if it is likely that a proposal will result in a planning scheme amendment; and/or have a significant impact on Victoria’s environment, amenity and human health due to pollution and waste. Consulting with EPA will ensure that such risks are understood and optimum solutions can be considered.

What matters EPA can assist and provide comment on

EPA considers a range of planning matters, including, but not limited to:

  • planning scheme amendments, including the rezoning of commercial, industrial or farming zone land for a sensitive use and the rezoning of land for a sensitive use where within proximity to existing industrial uses
  • whole-of-scheme reviews, particularly where they involve policy to guide industrial, commercial and agricultural uses or residential growth areas
  • application of Environmental Audit Overlays (EAOs)
  • council strategic plans, visionary documents, structure plans, area framework plans and master plans
  • major infrastructure planning and Environment Effects Statements; and
  • precinct structure plans and regional growth plans.

What information EPA needs to assess a new proposal

Successful strategic planning results in appropriate land use. Our ability to provide useful advice is based on the degree of information provided. Information that can assist us in our assessment include, but is not limited to:

  • any operating and closed landfills (private and municipal)
  • existing and/or proposed intensive animal farming
  • any industry which requires buffers in accordance with Separation Distances for Industrial Residual Air Emissions (publication 1518) and Clause 53.10 of the Victorian Planning Provisions
  • location of nearby EPA licensed sites
  • location of nearby major hazards facilities
  • Groundwater Quality Restricted Use Zones (GQRUZ)
  • sites likely to be contaminated from previous uses (including sites nearby contaminated land); and
  • sites listed on the EPA Priority Sites Register.

When writing to EPA, include details of:

  • the strategic planning matter including, any draft local policy, supporting plans and other relevant documentation
  • existing and proposed zones, overlays and land use
  • previous and nearby industrial land uses
  • any previous engagement with EPA regarding this matter
  • council and applicant contact details
  • your response to relevant guidelines and legislative requirements, including Ministerial Directions and relevant planning guidelines.

How planning authorities should seek advice from EPA

As per MD19, planning authorities should contact us once strategic land use planning processes are underway. This is especially important if:

  • there could be land use compatibility issues
  • the land is potentially contaminated
  • there may be a significant impact to the environment, amenity and human health; and
  • the matter will or likely will require a planning scheme amendment.

For combined amendment requests and planning permit applications, the same process as outlined above should be followed. For lengthy or more significant projects, we will likely require a face-to-face briefing. For such projects, planning authorities should consider including us in project working groups so that advice may be provided at important project milestones.

What to expect from EPA

EPA is committed to providing timely and accurate advice to inform strategic land-use planning decisions. We aim to provide a preliminary response within 10 business days indicating one of the following:

  • we do not consider significant risks to be present and have no further comment
  • we need more information
  • we have views on the proposal; or
  • we think that the request requires a detailed response and will work with the planning authority to ensure project timelines are maintained where practicable.

Our planning officers may sometimes need to consult our environmental experts. When this occurs, EPA officers will work with the planning authority to communicate expected delays.

What happens after EPA advice is issued

EPA’s advice will most benefit planning authorities if it can be given at the earliest possible stage of the process. Planning authorities should continue to involve EPA following receipt of our advice, particularly where the proposal is amended.  We also want to be involved in any iterations of an amendment to ensure that our advice remains relevant.

EPA will remain involved in strategic planning matters, including making submissions at planning panels when necessary. We acknowledge that it may take some time to fully implement the requirements of the MD. During this time, we are committed to working with planning authorities in a constructive and supportive manner.

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

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 17 September 2020