All local councils have planning schemes in place. Planning schemes set out how land can be used, including what can be built on and under it.
North East Link, the M80 Ring Road Completion and Eastern Freeway Upgrades pass through 7 local government areas. To allow the projects to be built we asked the Victorian Minister for Planning to make changes to the Banyule, Boroondara, Manningham, Nillumbik, Manningham, Whittlesea and Yarra Planning Schemes. This is known as a Planning Scheme Amendment.
Draft Planning Scheme Amendment GC98 was exhibited with the EES for public comment.
The Minister for Planning approved an amended Planning Scheme Amendment GC98 on 23 December 2019. It was gazetted on 3 January 2020. Read the amendment on the Department of Transport and Planning website.
The Scheduled Premises Regulations under the Environment Protection Act 1970 (EP Act) previously specify that road tunnel ventilation systems are scheduled activities under Schedule 1, L03 of the regulations. This means a works approval is required prior to the construction of the North East Link tunnel ventilation system.
A works approval application was exhibited with the EES for public comment in 2019. The application considered greenhouse gas emissions, air quality, noise and vibration and climate change.
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria approved the works approval for tunnel ventilation system on 28 February 2020. The Works Approval continued as a Development Licence under Section 471 of the Environment Protection Act 2017 from 1 July 2021. EPA has subsequently amended the Development Licence under the new Act under Section 58 to provide consistency with the updated Environmental Performance Requirements (as approved by the Minister for Planning on 21 July 2021) and the provisions of the new Environment Protection Act 2017.
A copy of the Development Licence (and other relevant documentation) is available at EPA’s website.
North East Link, including the M80 Ring Road Completion and Eastern Freeway Upgrades, has been declared a major transport project under Victoria’s Major Transport Projects Facilitation Act 2009 (‘MTPF Act’) for the purposes of project delivery.
The Project Area was designated by the Minister for Planning under section 95(2)(a) of the Major Transport Projects Facilitation Act 2009 (MTPFA) by an order published in the Victorian Government Gazette on 5 February 2020.
View the LEGL plans (maps) that delineate the Project Area (PDF, 5.4 MB)
Since its original designation, variations of the Project Area were approved by the Minister for Planning and published in the Victorian Government Gazette.
- Variation of the designated Project Area – Victorian Government Gazette, 22 October 2020 (PDF, 406.3 KB)
- Variation of the designated Project Area – Victorian Government Gazette, 10 December 2020 (PDF, 398.2 KB)
- Variation of the designated Project Area – Victorian Government Gazette, 19 February 2021 (PDF, 3.5 MB)
- Variation of the designated Project Area – Victorian Government Gazette, 29 June 2021 (PDF, 403.2 KB)
- Variation of the designated Project Area – Victorian Government Gazette, 5 October 2022 (PDF, 525.8 KB)
- Variation of the designated Project Area – Victorian Government Gazette, 15 March 2023 (PDF, 425.9 KB).
- Variation of the designated Project Area – Victorian Government Gazette, 22 August 2023 (PDF, 709.4 KB)
View the LEGL plans (maps) associated with the above variations that delineate the Project Area below
The designation of the Project Area means that the Project Authority (the Secretary to the Department of Transport and Planning) can exercise (among other things) project delivery powers under the MTPFA.
The Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 recognises Aboriginal people as the primary guardians, keepers and knowledge holders of Aboriginal cultural heritage. Under section 49 of the Act, a Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP) must be prepared for any project for which an EES has been required.
The CHMP for North East Link, the M80 Ring Road Completion and Eastern Freeway Upgrades was prepared together with Aboriginal Victoria and Traditional Owners Groups, including the Registered Aboriginal Party, the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation.
The CHMP was approved by the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation and Aboriginal Victoria on 17 February 2020.
Federal approval for North East Link, the M80 Ring Road Completion and the Eastern Freeway Upgrades was assessed by the Australian Government under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
The EPBC Act is the Australian Government’s central piece of environmental legislation. It provides a legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities and heritage places.
A Public Environment Report (PER) was prepared and submitted to the Minister for the Environment to inform approval under the EPBC Act.
The Federal Minister for the Environment approved the projects on 13 December 2019.
The approval includes strict conditions to manage and report on outcomes for matters of national environmental significance and the environment on Commonwealth land. These include outcomes for the Matted Flax-lily and Studley Park Gum tree as well as the removal of native vegetation from Commonwealth land at Simpson Barracks.
Two updates have been made to include the construction of some additional replacement facilities for the Department of Defence and Simpson Barracks and Matted Flax-lily harvest numbers after high rainfall and favourable growing conditions – ensuring salvage and relocation conditions are met.
You can view the EPBC approval and the conditions that apply on the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website. The referral number is 2018/8142.
Managing outcomes for the Matted Flax-lily
Construction of North East Link and the M80 Ring Road Completion is expected to require the removal of up to 139 Matted Flax-lily plants.
Impacts will be managed through a salvage and translocation plan. This will involve harvesting, dividing and propagating, and then planting in a suitable location.
We’re planning to harvest and grow multiple plants from each one collected so we can plant more than are removed.
The translocation of Matted Flax-lilies has been successful for other major projects in the local area including the South Morang Rail Extension Project and Melbourne Wholesale Markets.
Read the Matted Flax-lily Salvage and Translocation Plan.
Managing outcomes for Studley Park Gum trees
The Studley Park Gum is a local hybrid of the River Red Gum and Swamp Gum. It is not a federally listed species, but is significant for the state of Victoria. The trees are included in the Commonwealth approval for the project because they are found on Commonwealth land at Simpson Barracks.
We’re committed to the survival of this unique Victorian hybrid tree. As part of preparing the PER specialists conducted a comprehensive study into the distribution of the Studley Park Gum, helping us to know more about this tree than ever before. We’ll also be implementing a Studley Park Gum Management Framework – the first of its kind for the tree.
Seeds from some of the up to 52 Studley Park Gums expected to be affected by construction will be collected so a new population can be established. Each of the up to 52 trees expected to be removed will be replaced by 2. To ensure the 2:1 replacement goal will be met, more than 300 saplings will be planted and carefully monitored for up to 10 years.
Read the Studley Park Gum Management Framework.
Managing removal of native vegetation from Commonwealth land
To build the North East Link tunnels, native vegetation needed to be removed on former Commonwealth land at Simpson Barracks.
Conditions set by the Federal Minister for the Environment required us to have offsets in place before construction started.
In addition to the offset program required by the Commonwealth Government, new trees will be planted and we’ll be increasing the number of significant trees and plants in Melbourne’s north east.
Annual reports documenting compliance with the EPBC approval and its conditions can be viewed below.