About the EES
In Victoria, projects that could have a large environmental impact require an Environment Effects Statement (EES). This is the most serious environmental assessment available in Victoria.
Few projects meet this threshold, but the Minister has declared one will be required for Viva Energy’s gas terminal proposal. This indicates there are serious environmental or community concerns to be investigated.
You can keep track of the progress of the EES at the Engage Vic website.
How does an EES work, and when will it happen?
Basically, the proponent of the project, in this case Viva Energy, prepares a very long document about the proposal. This is called the Environment Effects Statement (EES).
The EES should outline any impacts on the environment or community, present alternatives, and propose ways to “avoid, minimise or manage adverse environmental effects”.
While the EES might include some independent research, it’s important to remember it makes a case on the company’s behalf. Previous EES documents for other large developments, such as AGL’s proposed gas terminal in Westernport Bay, downplayed the environmental impacts, and their evidence was challenged during the subsequent inquiry.
We’re expecting Viva Energy’s EES to be released in early 2022. Once it is out, the community will have a very short time to respond -- usually about 30 days to wade through thousands of pages of technical information.
At this point, it’s important for anyone concerned about the project to make a submission to the EES inquiry.
Once submissions are in, an independent panel will be convened to conduct hearings, table reports from expert witnesses and listen to community concerns. While not a court case, the inquiry process generally involves lawyers making the case for and against the proposal.
After the inquiry, the independent panel will produce a report, which goes to the Victorian Planning Minister. The Planning Minister will then have a set period of time to respond -- usually about 30 days.
Although the Planning Minister takes the report’s recommendations into account, they are not binding. Ultimately, the Planning Minister is the one who decides.
There are other parties and processes involved in assessing this gas terminal proposal, including the Victorian EPA and the federal Environment Minister. But the main assessment process sits with this EES and the Victorian Planning Minister.
Why get involved?
The EES is the best way to raise your concerns about this project with the Victorian government.
The EES inquiry can reveal environmental impacts that the company has tried to keep hidden, and offers a chance to cross-examine any attempts to downplay the environmental impact of the project. We strongly urge everyone to make a submission when the time comes in early 2022.
How you can help!
- Sign the petition, so we can let you know when the EES is out
- Make a submission to the EES inquiry, once it is announced
- Keep raising awareness with your family, friends, local community group and local MP