Risk report

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Summary of document

This report is an attachment to the North East Link Environment Effects Statement (EES). It has been used to inform the EES required for the project. This report describes this risk assessment process used to inform the EES.

North East Link is a proposed new freeway standard road connection that would complete the missing link in Melbourne’s ring road, giving the city a fully completed orbital connection for the first time. North East Link would connect the M80 Ring Road (otherwise known as the Metropolitan Ring Road) to the Eastern Freeway, and include works along the Eastern Freeway from near Hoddle Street to Springvale Road.

Under section 3 of the Environment Effects Act 1978, an Environment Effects Statement must be prepared for the project. The EES allows stakeholders to understand the likely environmental impacts of North East Link and how they are proposed to be managed.

The Ministerial guidelines for assessment of environmental effects under the Environment Effects Act 1978 (Department of Sustainability and Environment 2006) require use of a systems and risk-based approach to assess environmental effects. The scoping requirements also require the EES approach to be risk-based so that 'a greater level of effort is directed at investigating and addressing those matters that pose relatively higher risk of adverse effects'.

Risk assessment has formed part of the North East Link EES assessment framework. It has enabled differentiation of significant and high risks and impacts from lower risks and impacts and informed priorities for impact assessment.

The EES assessment differentiates between risks and impacts as follows:

  • A risk is the function of the likelihood of an adverse event occurring and the potential consequences of the event
  • An impact relates to the outcome of an event (planned or unplanned) in relation to an asset, value or use being realised.

The risk assessment was carried out in general accordance with the risk process guidance outlined in the section 5 of the Australian Standard AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009, Risk management – Principles and guidelines. The risk assessment process and risk criteria were tailored for the EES and North East Link’s context.

The results of the risk assessment have helped to focus the impact assessment and informed development of the reference project and measures to avoid, mitigate and manage of environmental risks and impacts. Environmental Performance Requirements (EPRs) were refined in response to the risk assessment. The EPRs set the minimum outcomes necessary to avoid, mitigate or manage environmental impacts during delivery of the project and would be complied with during delivery of North East Link.

A range of risk pathways were identified and assessed by specialists during the EES process. The initial risk assessment rated these risk pathways as planned, very low, low, medium, high or very high. The initial risk assessment assisted to focus the impact assessment on areas of medium or higher risks and planned events. Where risks were rated as medium or above or were planned events with a consequence of minor or above, additional risk treatment options such as design refinements and new or revised EPRs were considered. In addition, many of the EPRs were revised during the course of the EES risk and impact assessment process to reflect project-specific risks and impacts.

Following risk treatment most risks were identified as either very low, low or medium risks. No risks were identified as having a high or very high residual risk. Planned events had consequence ratings ranging from negligible through to major and were assessed further through the impact assessment process.

Residual risks rated as medium and planned events relate to a range of disciplines including Aboriginal cultural heritage, arboriculture, air quality, businesses, ecology, historical heritage, human health, ground movement, land use planning, landscape and visual impacts, social, surface water, and traffic and transport. These would be managed by the EPRs and associated management plans where required to manage the risks and mitigate planned and potential impacts.

More information about the EES can be found in the planning section of the website.