Key steps in the EES process

Over the past two years, we’ve been working on the technical studies needed for planning approvals, including the preparation of an Environment Effects Statement (EES).

An EES is Victoria’s most stringent and transparent impact assessment process. It gives decision makers such as the Minister for Planning and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria, the information they need to determine whether planning approvals should be granted and what conditions should apply.

Key steps

Early 2018 – North East Link referred the project to the Minister for Planning. Read the project outline here.

2 February 2018 – Minister decided that an EES is required. Read the declaration here.

22 May 2018 – Minister issued draft Scoping Requirements for public comment.

24 June 2018 – Minister issued final Scoping Requirements. Read the Scoping Requirements here.

Wednesday 10 April 2019 – The EES went on display for 40 days and was open for public submissions

Friday 7 June 2019 – EES submissions closed at 5 pm

Friday 21 June 2019 – Directions Hearing held to make arrangements for and answer questions about the Public Hearing

Mid 2019 – The Minister for Planning appointed an independent Inquiry and Advisory Committee (IAC) panel to review the EES and public submissions received and make recommendations.

July - September 2019 – The thirty four day public hearing commenced Thursday 25 July and concluded Monday 16 September.

September - October 2019 – After the public hearings the independent Inquiry and Advisory Committee (IAC) prepared a report of recommendations and submitted it to the Minister for Planning. The report was provided to the Minister within 30 business days of the completion of the public hearing.

5 December 2019 – The Minister for Planning released IAC’s report including their recommendations together with his assessment on the environmental effects of the project. The Minister’s assessment considered the committee’s recommendations as well as the information presented in the EES, public submissions and evidence presented during the public hearings, and ultimately concluded that the environmental effects could be satisfactorily managed.

December 2019 – North East Link reviewed the assessment in detail and submitted a revised Planning Scheme Amendment to the Minister for Planning.

The revised Planning Scheme Amendment (GC98) was approved by the Minister for Planning on 23 December 2019 and gazetted on 3 January 2020. A copy is available on the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning website here. The Environmental Performance Requirements the project will need to meet during planning, construction and operation will be reviewed and approved by the Minister for Planning in the coming months as part of an Environmental Management Framework. EPA Victoria is expected to make a decision on the Works Approval Application for the construction and the operation of the tunnel ventilation structures soon.

In addition to receiving planning approval in Victoria through the EES process, the project received approval from the Commonwealth Government in December 2019 under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. More information about the Commonwealth approval process is available here.

February 2020 - The Project Area for North East Link was designated by the Minister for Planning under section 95(2)(a) of the Major Transport Projects Facilitation Act 2009 (MTPFA) by an order published in the Victoria Government Gazette on 5 February 2020, which can be viewed here. The LEGL plans that delineate the Project Area can be viewed here PDF, 5.4 MB.

The designation of the Project Area means that the Project Authority (the Secretary to the Department of Transport) can now exercise (amongst other things) project delivery powers under the MTPFA.

February 2020 - The Environment Management Framework has been approved by the Minister for Planning, following the Minister’s assessment and the Inquiry and Advisory Committee recommendations made during the Environment Effects Statement process, to ensure environmental values are protected and statutory requirements met.

The Environmental Management Framework aims to keep North East Link Project and its builders accountable in managing the environmental effects of the project. View the framework here. 

Included in the framework are Environmental Performance Requirements (EPRs), which outline the environmental outcomes that must be achieved throughout the design, construction and operation of the project. This includes strict requirements to make sure construction and environmental impacts are managed well and North East Link delivers long-lasting community benefit.

There are more than 100 EPRs for North East Link Project, which cover a range of areas including noise and air quality, vibration, visual impacts, landscaping, and tree and vegetation management. They also seek to ensure that the project delivers good outcomes for local communities and the environment, and put more support in place for local businesses and workers impacted by the project.

Separate to the EES process,

Separate to the EES process, a Cultural Heritage Management Plan was approved on 17 February 2020 under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006.

The Cultural Heritage Management Plan is required to assess the potential impacts to Aboriginal cultural heritage and manage how that heritage can be best protected.

To identify Aboriginal heritage in the project area, investigations were undertaken together with Aboriginal Victoria and Traditional Owners Groups, including the Registered Aboriginal Party, the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation.