Environmental Impact Statements

What is an EIS?

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is required for any development application (DA) in the impact track under section 123 of the Planning and Development Act 2007 (unless an EIS Exemption is granted).

An EIS details the anticipated environmental impacts of a development on the environment as well as proposing avoidance, mitigation and offset measures. An EIS is prepared by a proponent to enable decision makers to understand the environmental consequences of a proposed development.

The EIS must include sufficient information to ensure that all environmental, social and economic impacts associated with the proposal have been identified and assessed, and any adverse impacts are avoided, minimised, mitigated or as a last resort, offset.

When is an EIS required?

An EIS is required if any of the following are applicable:

  • the development is listed in Schedule 4 of the Planning and Development Act 2007
  • the development is listed in the relevant Territory Plan development table for the zone as impact assessable
  • the development isn’t mentioned in a development table of the Territory Plan
  • the Minister for Planning and Land Management declares that the impact track applies to a proposal
  • the proposed development is prohibited by the relevant development table in the Territory Plan, but an existing lease over the land already allows for that development
  • the Minister responsible for the Public Health Act 1997 has declared the impact track applicable.

What is the EIS process?

The EIS process is detailed in the flowchart below.

There are three major stages where a proponent submits information to the planning and land authority (the Authority):

  • Application for EIS scoping document: The proponent submits preliminary information on the proposal. With input from referral entities, the Authority issues a scoping document which outlines the matters to be addressed in the EIS.
  • Draft EIS application: The proponent prepares and lodges a draft EIS, addressing each matter raised in the scoping document. The draft EIS is publicly notified for a minimum of 20 working days.
  • Revised EIS application: The proponent addresses matters raised during public notification and lodges a revised EIS. The Authority assesses the revised EIS and prepares an EIS assessment report for the Minister.

Once the Minister receives the revised EIS and a copy of the EIS assessment report, the Minster may:

  • decide to take no action on the EIS—this completes the EIS process
  • present the EIS to the Legislative Assembly
  • decide to establish an inquiry panel. The Minister must decide within 15 working days whether to establish an inquiry panel, and if so, receives an inquiry report within 60 days of establishing the panel. Once the panel has reported the results from the inquiry or the time for reporting has ended, the EIS process is complete.

Once the EIS process is deemed complete the proponent can lodge a development application in the impact track. A completed EIS is valid for 5 years from the completion date. An EIS Assessment Report is valid for 18 months.

EIS Process outline

The following steps outline the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process:1. An optional pre-application meeting between proponent, assessment officers and relevant entities.2. The proponent submits an EIS scoping document application electronically to customer services.3. The Authority consults with entities and prepares the scoping document no later than 30 working days after the request is made and sends it to the proponent. Scoping document is valid for 18 months from the date of issue.4. Proponent prepares and lodges draft EIS, addressing each matter raised in the scoping document.5. Public notification period commences – the draft EIS is publicly available on the Authority website and is referred to entities for at least 20 working days.6. Public notification period ends – the proponent is provided with entity comments and public representations for their consideration.7. Proponent prepares a revised EIS, addressing matters raised during public notification.8. The Authority assesses the revised EIS.8a. The Authority may send a notice to the proponent to address any unaddressed matters (section 224 notice). If the Authority does not accept response to a second section 224 notice – the EIS is considered unsatisfactory and is rejected.9. The Authority prepares an EIS Assessment Report (EISAR).10. The Authority gives the EIS and EISAR to the Minister.11. The Minister may:11a. Give notice to take no action on the EIS;11b. Present the EIS to the Legislative Assembly; or11c. Decide to establish an inquiry panel (separate process).Notes: 1. The Minister has 15 working days to decide whether to establish an inquiry panel for the EIS. 2. If an EIS is complete, the proponent can lodge an impact track DA.3. A completed EISAR is valid for 18 months from the date of notification.4. A completed EIS is valid for 5 years from the completion date.

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What is an EIS Inquiry Panel?

An inquiry panel for an EIS may be established when the Minister decides that an EIS needs to be considered in further detail.

Establishment of a Panel

The Minister must decide whether to establish a panel to consider any or all aspects of an EIS no later than 15 working days after the EIS is given to them.

If a panel is to be established, the Minister must prepare terms of reference for the inquiry and give the proponent notice of the inquiry. The terms of reference must be notified on the ACT legislation Register.

The Minister must appoint members to the panel and nominate a person to be the presiding member of the panel.

Panel’s Role

The inquiry panel is independent and must not be directed by the Minister in its findings or recommendations.

The inquiry panel must report in writing on the result of the inquiry no later than 60 working days after the panel is established. However, the period for reporting may be extended by the Minister on application by the panel.

What is a Bilateral EIS?

The Bilateral EIS process can apply to proposals that require both an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the ACT’s Planning and Development Act 2007 and approval under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The Commonwealth Government has accredited the ACT’s EIS process through a bilateral agreement as meeting the environmental assessment requirements of the EPBC Act.

If the bilateral agreement applies to a proposal, the subsequent scoping document and EIS assessment report will be prepared by the ACT with input from the Commonwealth Government. The final EIS assessment report prepared by the Authority and endorsed by the ACT Minister is provided to the Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Energy for use in their approval process under the EPBC Act. Read more about the bilateral agreement.

Once the EIS process is complete, an impact track development application for the proposal can be submitted to the Authority for assessment. The development application process will take into account the findings and recommendations of the completed EIS and any conditions of approval related to the Commonwealth Government decision.

Bilateral EIS Process outline

The following steps outline the Bilateral EIS process:  1.Proponent submits EPBC referral to the Commonwealth. 2.Commonwealth Referral Decision is that the action is a ‘controlled action’ assessment and approval under EPBC Act is required. 3.The Authority advices that the bilateral assessment agreement will be applied. 4.Assessment via bilateral is confirmed by the Commonwealth. 5.Proponent applies to the Authority for EIS scoping document. 6.The scoping document is prepared and sent to the applicant, with the Commonwealth providing input on the preparation of the scoping document. The scoping document is valid for 18 months from the date of the issue. 7.Proponent prepares and lodges draft EIS. 8.Public notification period commences – the draft EIS is publicly available on the Authority website and is referred to entities for at least 20 working days. The Commonwealth reviews draft EIS and provides comment to the Authority. 9.Public notification period ends – the proponent is provided with entity comments and public representations for their consideration. 10.Proponent prepares a revised EIS, addressing matters raised during public notification. 11.The Authority assesses the revised EIS. a.The Authority may send a notice to the proponent to address any unaddressed matters (section 224 notice). If the Authority does not accept response to a second section 224 notice – the EIS is considered unsatisfactory and is rejected. 12.The Authority prepares an EIS Assessment Report (EISAR). The Commonwealth reviews draft EISAR and provides comment to the Authority. 13.The Authority gives the EIS and EISAR to the Minister. 14.The Minister may: a.Give notice to take no action on the EIS; b.Present the EIS to the Legislative Assembly; or c.Decide to establish an inquiry panel (separate process). 15.Once the EIS is complete under the PD Act, the proponent can lodge a DA in the impact track. 16.Once the EIS is complete under the PD Act, the Commonwealth approval phase commences – the Commonwealth has 30 working days with provision to ‘stop the clock’ if further information is required or seek and extension of time to make a decision. Includes public comment period. Commonwealth consults with the Authority on proposed conditions on Australian Government decision. Notes:  *The Minister has 15 working days to decide whether to establish an inquiry panel for the EIS.  *A completed EISAR is valid for 18 months from the date of notification. *A completed EIS is valid for 5 years from the completion date.

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What information is required to lodge an EIS application?

An EIS scoping document application must provide sufficient information about the proposal and any associated works to understand the potential impacts of the proposal. A detailed guide on requirements for lodgement is provided in the EIS guidance document for proponents.

The required documentation includes a completed Application for Environmental Impact Assessment Processes (Form 1M) with the following attached:

  • a statement outlining the objectives of the project and why it is needed
  • a completed Letter of Authorisation form, providing details and signatures of all lessees or land custodians of land to which the proposal relates; a separate form is required for each lessee/land custodian
  • a description of the proposal, including maps or plans of the site and any preliminary design drawings;
  • a preliminary risk assessment (PRA) based on the EIS guidance document for proponents
  • a description of the natural conservation values of the site based on the EIS guidance document for proponents
  • a description of measures within the proposal that seek to avoid and minimise (and as a last resort offset) impacts of the proposal on any conservation values
  • information on any decision made under the EPBC Act in relation to this proposal.

Current EIS scoping documents

The planning and land authority has issued the following active scoping documents. The proponent has 18 months from the issuing of a scoping document to lodge their draft EIS application.

Notifiable Instrument number for publication of scoping document Scoping document name Scoping document expiry

NI2018-27

Planning and Development (Materials Recovery Facility – Fyshwick) Scoping Document 2018

22 July 2019

NI2017-389

Planning and Development (Materials Recovery and Waste to Energy Facility - Fyshwick) Scoping Document 2017

20 January 2019

NI2017-186 Planning and Development (Second Electricity Supply Project – Belconnen and Holt) Scoping Document 2017 20 October 2018

Current draft EIS applications

Members of the public have the opportunity to view draft EISs and provide a written representation within the public notification period.

Notifiable Instrument number for publication of scoping document Application number Link to draft EIS application documentation Draft EIS public notification period end date
NI2018-27 EIS201700053 Materials recovery facility - Fyshwick 27 June 2018
NI2017-186 EIS201700005 ACT Second Electrical Supply Project 26 April 2018

Completed EIS

The EIS assessment report details the Authority’s assessment of the application. The EIS assessment report is a notifiable instrument that expires 18 months after the day it is notified. The EIS expires five years after the day it is completed.

Notifiable Instrument number for EIS Assessment Report Project title EIS process completed
NI2017-628 Liquid Waste Facility and Depot – Hume Minister agreed to take no action on 9 November 2017
Note: as this EIS included the establishment of an inquiry panel, the EIS assessment report was not released.

Planning and Development (Foy Group Waste Plastic to Fuel Environmental Impact Statement Inquiry Panel) Terms of Reference
Waste Plastics to Fuel Conversion Facility - Hume

The findings of the Inquiry Panel were released on 4 May 2017.

The Minister for Planning and Land Management published a Media Release on the inquiry panel report.

NI2015-592 Capital Metro Light Rail Stage 1 Minister agreed to take no action on 7 October 2015
NI2014-211 Lawson South 132kV Power Line Relocation Minister agreed to take no action on 14 May 2014
NI2014-204 Cravens Creek Water Quality Control Pond Minister agreed to take no action on 7 April 2014
NI2014-153 Mugga Landfill Expansion Stage 5 Minister agreed to take no action on 16 December 2013

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