What is an Environment Effects Statement?
An Environment Effects Statement (EES) is a detailed document which describes the environmental effects of the project which is proposed for development.
- A description of the proposal
- A description of the existing environment that may be affected by the Fingerboards Project
- Predictions of significant environmental effects (both positive and negative) of the project proposal and any relevant alternatives
- An outline of all the public and stakeholder consultations undertaken during investigations of the project and the issues raised during those consultations
- The program proposed to monitor and manage environmental effects during the Fingerboards Project implementation
This may sound simple, but it is not. Fifteen primary specialist reports and nineteen supporting technical studies make up this EES document. More than a hundred consultants, specialists, experts and technicians have been involved in the Fingerboards studies and investigations and have undertaken in excess of 20,000 hours of work.
Before Kalbar prepared this EES document, the Victorian Planning Minister issued a set of ‘scoping requirements’ to determine the extent of the investigations required. The scoping requirements depend on the level of risk to aspects of the environment. These requirements were determined by government agencies. Community also had the opportunity to provide input.
During preparation of the EES, a Technical Reference Group (made up of government agencies, local government and regional authorities) was appointed to provide technical advice to both the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and to Kalbar as project proponent.
The Technical Reference Group provided detailed guidance and responses to Kalbar and its consultants to ensure that the studies were robust and comprehensive.
The Fingerboards Project EES is now complete and is soon to go to public review. Over a period of 40 working days (eight weeks) community members and stakeholders have the opportunity to view the document, seek answers to questions from technical experts, and make written submissions in response to the EES. Despite the current COVID-19 restrictions, plans have been amended to facilitate community review of the EES documents and ability to make submissions.
The next phase following public submissions is an independent Panel review process and the Minister’s assessment of the EES.
Victoria has one of the most thorough environmental assessment processes in the world. This offers a high level of confidence that the Fingerboards Project will be assessed against the highest level of environmental and community expectations.