Environmental impact statement/impact assessment report
The Coordinator-General may declare a project a 'coordinated project':
- requiring an environmental impact statement (EIS), or
- requiring an impact assessment report (IAR).
A draft EIS is prepared in accordance with:
The EIS is prepared in accordance with the terms of reference (TOR) for the EIS. The EIS provides a comprehensive description of:
- the current environment in the area of the project
- all potential environmental impacts of the project (including social impacts)
- proponent proposals to avoid, minimise, mitigate and/or offset those potential impacts.
The impacts include direct, indirect and cumulative impacts resulting from the construction, commissioning, operation and decommissioning of the project.
The EIS requires studies to establish the qualities of the existing environment (natural, social, economic and built) and community consultation.
An IAR process may be used if the Coordinator-General is satisfied that the environmental effects of the project do not, having regard to their scale and extent, require assessment through the EIS process. It may be used for well-defined, low-medium risk projects where the likely impacts are highly predictable and the proponent's well-defined proposals to avoid, minimise, mitigate and/or offset those impacts are accepted best-practice in that industry. The IAR:
- has no formal terms of reference
- is focused mostly on the:
- locations that may be subject to adverse impacts if not appropriately managed
- potential impacts that are either uncertain, or
- proposed mitigation measures that depart from accepted management practices or standard conditions for that industry.
If a project is a 'controlled action' and is being assessed in accordance with the assessment bilateral agreement, the EIS will contain a separate section regarding the project's impacts on matters of national environmental significance and the project will require separate approval by the Australian Government.
There are fees associated with considering the draft EIS/IAR and preparing the Coordinator-General's report on the EIS/IAR.
A draft EIS is prepared in accordance with the final TOR. If the IAR process is used, the draft IAR is prepared by the project proponent in consultation with the Coordinator-General. There is no TOR for an IAR.
The public and government advisory agencies are invited to make a submission on the draft EIS, and on most draft IARs. Comments are sought on:
- the project's potential environmental effects
- whether the draft EIS adequately addresses the terms of reference
- whether the measures proposed by the proponent will effectively manage the project's impacts.
For more information on the public consultation process, visit the Have your say page.
During the public consultation period, the Coordinator-General may arrange meetings between the proponent and advisory agencies to:
- present an overview of the draft EIS/IAR
- enable the proponent to outline the key elements of the project, its potential impacts and possible mitigation strategies
- solicit feedback from advisory agencies on matters of interest or concern - prior to their formal submissions on the draft EIS/IAR.
After considering the draft EIS or IAR, the Coordinator-General may ask the project proponent to provide a revised draft EIS/IAR . Alternatively, if the Coordinator-General is satisfied that additional information is not required, the draft EIS/IAR will then be as accepted as the final EIS/IAR.
A revised draft EIS/IAR could include:
- corrections, clarification and further information to that provided in the draft EIS/IAR - as requested in state government advisory agency and public submissions
- results from additional studies requested by advisory agencies or the Coordinator-General
- a description of any changes or refinements to the project proposed by the proponent since the draft EIS/IAR was released.
Normally, the revised draft EIS/IAR is not released for public comment, unless the additional information is considered to be substantial, or public input is warranted due to refinements to the project since the release of the draft EIS/IAR. In such cases, the Coordinator-General may require public consultation on the revised draft EIS/IAR - similar to that which occurred for the draft EIS/IAR.
Advisory agencies are invited to comment on the adequacy of the revised draft EIS/IAR in addressing matters raised in their submissions on the draft EIS/IAR and recommend conditions for the Coordinator-General to consider in preparing his report on the EIS/IAR.
After evaluating the project's EIS/IAR (including any additional information) the Coordinator-General prepares a report on the EIS/IAR.
The Coordinator-General must accept a draft EIS as a final EIS within 18 months of the terms of reference for the EIS being issued. Unless the Coordinator-General grants an extension, the coordinated project declaration lapses after this time.
The Coordinator-General must accept a draft IAR as a final IAR within 18 months of the project being declared a 'coordinated project'. Unless the Coordinator-General grants an extension, the project declaration lapses after this time.
Projects for which an EIS has been publicly notified prior to 1 October 2014 are subject to the transitional arrangements and the previous lapsing provisions apply.
Last updated: 09 Nov 2021