The Victorian Government and Transurban have commenced a comprehensive and transparent planning, consultation and approvals process for the Western Distributor through an Environment Effects Statement (EES).
The Western Distributor EES will be exhibited publicly in the first half of 2017 and will mark a significant milestone for the project.
What is an EES?
An EES is a well-established process, under the Environment Effects Act 1978, that provides a comprehensive framework for assessing the effects of major projects in Victoria.
The Ministerial guidelines for assessment of environmental effects defines the environment as the physical, biological, heritage, cultural, social, health, safety and economic aspects of human surroundings. All of these are considered in the EES.
The guidelines state the objective of the assessment process is to provide for the transparent, integrated and timely assessment of projects capable of having a significant effect on the environment.
The EES process is managed by the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) on behalf of the Minister for Planning. Information about the process is available on the DELWP website.
An EES has been used to assess many of Victoria’s major projects, the most recent being the Melbourne Metro Rail Project.
How does the EES inform the project's development?
The project team has has already started the planning process to inform development of the Western Distributor EES. This is being undertaken through site investigations, existing conditions assessments and community consultation.
Initial investigations have established the existing conditions in the project area, which provides a baseline for the project team to look at changes and possible impacts.
From mid to late 2016, the project team will undertake a range of specialist studies to inform the impact assessments which clearly outline the potential impacts of the project and possible mitigation measures.
The studies will be incorporated into the EES, which will be exhibited to the public in the first half of 2017.
How will the project be assessed?
The EES will include an assessment of the Reference design and changes to the design proposed by tenderers. The EES will also consider consultation with stakeholders and the community.
By having a simultaneous tender procurement and planning process,we can deliver better project outcomes and can investigate design options as they are developed.
Timeline for the EES
Now, Preparing the EES
- Studies and investigations to understand potential impacts
- Technical Reference Group advice and review of the EES
- Consultation informs existing conditions and specialist studies.
Early-mid 2017, Public review and hearings
- EES public exhibition
- Appointment of an independent Inquiry Panel
- Written submissions received and considered by the panel and a public hearing
- Panel considers the effects of the project with regard to the EES studies and public submissions.
Late 2017, Minister’s assessment
- Minister for Planning considers the EES, public submissions and any inquiry report in making an assessment
- Statutory decision makers issue approvals including conditions.
How will impacts be assessed?
To deliver a thorough EES, specialist studies and assessments will identify the potential environmental, social and economic impacts of the project and how these impacts could be avoided, minimised or managed.
The EES will include 17 specialist studies, covering:
- Aboriginal cultural heritage
- Air quality
- Contamination and spoil management
- Greenhouse gas
- Ground movement
- Human health
- Historical heritage
- Landscape and visual
- Land use planning
- Noise and vibration (surface)
- Surface water, drainage and wastewater disposal
- Vibration and regenerated noise