The draft scoping requirements for the proposed North East Link project's Environment Effects Statement have been released and are open for public comment until 12 June 2018. Partner Jillian Button and Lawyer Dale Straughen report.
On 2 February 2018, the Minister for Planning (the Minister) declared the North East Link a 'public works' for the purposes of the Environment Effects Act 1978 (Vic) on the basis that the works could reasonably be considered to have, or be capable of having, a significant effect on the environment. This declaration means that an Environment Effects Statement (EES) must be prepared and submitted to the Minister for review before the works can commence. The purpose of the EES is to provide a sufficiently detailed description of the project to enable its likely environmental effects to be assessed by the Minister.
While the procedures and requirements of the ESS are determined at a high level by the Minister, the scoping requirements provide detail on the specific matters to be in investigated in the EES process. This includes identifying the key issues and risks of the project, the measures to mitigate against the key risks, the means by which existing assets and uses are to be characterised, and the method by which the likely environmental effects of the works will be assessed.
On 22 May 2018, draft scoping requirements for the EES were released for public comment by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning on behalf of the Minister.
Businesses and landowners in the vicinity of the proposed road corridor, major users of the road transport system, and others who may be materially affected by the project should review the draft scoping requirements to ensure that all likely disruptions to their businesses and any impacts on their property will be reviewed in the EES process. Given the draft scoping requirements contain more detail than has been seen with recent major infrastructure projects (eg, the Melbourne Metro Rail Project), it may be appropriate for interested parties to request that the scoping document require investigation of specific issues in the ESS process (including with reference to particular businesses or property).
The draft scoping requirements are open for public comment until midnight on 12 June 2018. Final scoping requirements will then be prepared to be endorsed by the Minister. The public will also have the opportunity to comment on the finalised EES once it is released.
If you would like assistance in making submissions on the draft scoping requirements, or advice on any other issue concerning the North East Link project, please get in touch with one of the contacts.