5 March 2021

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Summary of document

North East Link will connect the M80 to an upgraded Eastern Freeway through twin tunnels constructed beneath the Yarra River, linking key growth areas in the north and south-east.

The North East Link Early Works is the first package of works for the project. It involves the relocation of around 100 above and underground services, such as power, gas, telecommunications, water and sewerage, so major construction of the North East Link can start from 2021.

As a requirement of Section 2 of the Environmental Management Framework (EMF) for the North East Link project (the Project) approved by the Minister for Planning, an Independent Environmental Auditor (IEA) must be engaged.

North East Link’s Independent Environmental Auditor (IEA) plays a key role in making sure the project and our contractors comply with hundreds of strict environmental requirements.

The Environmental Performance Requirements (EPRs) outline the environmental outcomes that must be achieved through the design, construction and operation of North East Link, including strict requirements to make sure construction and environmental impacts are managed well.


This document presents the six-monthly summary report for the North East Link Project (NELP), and specifically for the North East Link Early Works (NELEW), for the period August 2020 to January 2021 inclusive.

The majority of the NELEW is being delivered by CPB Contractors Pty Ltd (CPB) (the Managing Contractor or contractor for the NELEW), with the exception of a new power substation near Blamey Road being constructed by Jemena Electricity Networks (Vic) Ltd (Jemena).

Audit activities

Across the reporting period (August 2020 to January 2021 inclusive), the IEA has conducted 2 Compliance Audits on a quarterly basis, assessing Project activities associated with the NELEW.

Each audit assessed compliance of CPB’s construction activities with the EMF, relevant EPRs and conditions of Project approvals, and the IEA reviewed and verified (and NELP accepted) Environmental Strategy, Construction Environmental Management Plan, Worksite Environmental Management Plans, Construction Compound Plans and other plans as required by the EPRs and as relevant to the scope of the audit.

The audits were conducted in August 2020 and November 2020. In January and early February 2021, the IEA also reviewed evidence associated with corrective actions undertaken by CPB to address the findings arising from the November 2020 IEA Compliance Audit.

Sites visited as part of the Compliance Audits across the reporting period included:

  • Borlase Precinct
  • Simpson Barracks
  • Binnak Park.

These sites were selected as they provided a representative sample of the locations in which CPB’s construction activities were being undertaken at the time of the audits and were in locations where either construction activities were considered to represent a higher risk of impact to the environment or where construction activities were being undertaken in proximity to sensitive environmental areas.

The criteria assessed as part of the Compliance Audits conducted in the reporting period covered EMF Sections 2 to 7 and 53 EPRs (as relevant to the NELEW).

The 53 EPRs assessed included EPRs from the following EPR topics:

  • EMF
  • Aboriginal heritage
  • arboriculture
  • air quality
  • contamination and soil
  • flora and fauna
  • noise and vibration
  • social and community
  • surface water
  • sustainability and climate change.

In addition, corrective actions from previous audits were also assessed.

Overall compliance

In general, CPB’s Project activities are considered to comply with the EMF.

Across the reporting period, 46 audit findings were identified against the EPRs, 4 of which were considered to represent Major NCs and 32 MNCs. The remaining findings were OFIs. Rather than being a total lack of implementation of the EPRs, the non-compliant findings identified tended to be associated either with isolated instances of non-compliance or with partial compliance with the requirements of Project specific environmental management plans. By extension, the non-compliant findings were associated with the EPRs requiring the preparation and implementation of these plans.

CPB has addressed and closed-out, to the satisfaction of the IEA, all of the Major NCs and all but one of the MNCs identified during the reporting period.

Given CPB’s response in closing out findings identified during the reporting period and taking the context of the findings into consideration, the IEA does not consider the audit findings to represent systemic issues or present significant or material ongoing risks to the environment.