Suburban Rail Loop will revolutionise Victoria’s public transport system, connecting every major train line from the Frankston Line to the Werribee Line via Melbourne Airport, and improving access to housing, jobs, schools, universities and hospitals in Melbourne’s middle suburbs.

Stage One will be built as a twin-tunnel, standalone line that will fully integrate into our existing public transport network with new underground stations at Cheltenham, Clayton, Monash, Glen Waverley, Burwood and Box Hill.

Stage One environmental assessment

Like other major infrastructure projects, Suburban Rail Loop requires extensive statutory approvals.

Rail infrastructure for Stage One of Suburban Rail Loop will be assessed through an Environment Effects Statement (EES) – our State’s most robust planning and environmental assessment process. The EES will assess the environmental impacts or effects associated with the project as part of a comprehensive and transparent process.

Supported by a range of technical investigations and studies, the EES will carefully consider potential environmental, heritage, urban design, traffic and transport, business, social and land use impacts. It will also identify requirements that may be put in place to avoid, mitigate or manage adverse effects of these impacts on people and the environment.

As part of the EES for Stage One of Suburban Rail Loop, an Environmental Management Framework will be developed to manage potential impacts. Environmental Performance Requirements will establish the environmental outcomes the project must achieve during design, construction and operation.

Suburban Rail Loop Authority will prepare the EES for Stage One of Suburban Rail Loop. Once completed, the EES will be exhibited for public review and comment with the findings to be examined by an independent inquiry. The EES and the report from this independent inquiry will inform the Minister for Planning’s assessment of the project. When this assessment is complete, statutory approvals can be sought.

To ensure major construction for Stage One can get underway quickly with fewer disruptions, a range of Initial Works will be undertaken along the alignment. These works will be considered and assessed separately from the EES and will be subject to planning provisions under the Planning and Environment Act 1987.

What is an Environment Effects Statement?

The EES process is coordinated by the Victorian Government’s Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) on behalf of the Minister for Planning.

An EES generally contains:

  • A description of the proposed project.
  • An outline of community and stakeholder engagement during investigations and the issues raised.
  • A description of the existing environment that may be affected.
  • Predictions of potentially significant environmental effects of the proposal and relevant alternatives.
  • Proposed measures to avoid, minimise or manage adverse environmental effects.
  • A framework to ensure monitoring and management of environmental effects during project delivery.

Key steps in the compulsory land acquisition process

Preparing an EES is an extensive process.

To inform the EES, a team of independent specialists is engaged to carry out a series of technical investigations and studies.

An EES report combining all the information prepared to assess the project’s design, construction and operation will be presented with supporting documentation including technical reports, proposed planning controls and maps.

Steps Indicative timing Key activities
Project Outline Late 2020
  • SRLA submits a Project Outline including a summary of environmental considerations
  • Minister for Planning confirms the requirement for an EES
  • Project Outline published on the DELWP website
Scoping the EES Early 2021
  • Baseline studies are undertaken to understand existing conditions in the proposed project area
  • Minister for Planning issues scoping requirements for the EES outlining matters to be investigated and documented based on the potential level of impact
  • Draft scoping requirements released for public exhibition and comment before they are finalised
Preparing the EES Late 2020 to late 2021
  • Further studies and investigations undertaken to understand the potential impacts of the project
  • A Technical Reference Group (TRG) appointed to provide advice and review impact assessments
  • Stakeholders and the community are engaged to inform the development of the EES
  • SRLA prepares the EES
Public review and independent inquiry Late 2021 to mid 2022
  • Exhibition of the EES for public review and comment
  • Public submissions go to an independent inquiry
  • Public hearings are held, and submitters are heard by the inquiry
Minister’s assessment Mid to late 2022
  • Minister for Planning provides an assessment
  • Government and decision-makers consider the Minister’s assessment
  • This assessment informs whether the project is approved under Victorian law

Key approvals for Stage One of Suburban Rail Loop

Decision MakersAssessment/Approvals
Victorian Minister for Planning Assessment
Environment Effects Statement (EES) Preparing an EES to assess the potential impacts or effects under the Environment Effects Act 1978
Aboriginal Victoria Key approvals
Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP) Preparing a CHMP to protect Aboriginal Cultural Heritage under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006
Victorian Minister for Planning Key approvals
Planning Scheme Amendment (PSA) Changing local planning schemes to allow for the use and development of land under the Planning and Environment Act 1987
Commonwealth Minister for the Environment Key approvals
Environment Protection Referral Submitting a referral to the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC)

Auditing

Independent Environmental Auditor assesses compliance with the Environmental Management Framework, relevant Environmental Performance Requirements, any other plans required by the Environmental Performance Requirements, and conditions of Project approvals.

Stakeholder and community engagement

Suburban Rail Loop Authority’s approach to engagement is based on guidance and requirements provided by Victorian legislation and policy. Engagement with stakeholders and the community will inform the development of the EES and statutory approvals for Stage One of Suburban Rail Loop.

There will be opportunities for stakeholders and communities to have their say on key areas of project design and planning processes.

Following the development of the EES, stakeholders and the community will be able to view planning documentation and make a formal submission during the EES public exhibition period.

There are many ways to stay informed and involved:

Engagement in the short to medium term will be focussed on online and digital forums and carried out in line with COVID-19 advice.

Read our translated fact sheets