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The SSD process

Prepare EIS

Assessing the impacts of a project with community engagement

Why is an EIS required?

All development applications (DAs) for State significant development must be accompanied by an environmental impact statement (EIS). The EIS must be prepared in accordance with the Planning Secretary’s environmental assessment requirements (SEARs) and have regard to the State Significant Development Guidelines – Preparing an EIS (Appendix B).

The EIS provides information on the economic, environmental, and social impacts of the project. It helps the community; government agencies and the consent authority make informed submissions or decisions on the project.

Preparing the EIS

The preparation of the EIS will typically involve:

  • engaging with the community and government agencies in a manner which is consistent with the Undertaking Engagement Guidelines for State Significant Projects
  • undertaking detailed studies to assess the impacts of the project in accordance with the SEARs and any relevant Government legislation, policies and guidelines
  • refining the design of the project to avoid or minimise impacts
  • integrating the findings of these key activities into a justification and evaluation of the project as a whole.

The EIS must be easy to understand, rigorous and as succinct as possible.

Starting from 1 July 2022, environmental impact statements (EIS) attached to State significant development and State significant infrastructure applications will need to be reviewed by a Registered Environmental Assessment Practitioner (REAP).

A transitional period has been established between 1 July 2022 and 31 December 2022, where EISs can be submitted without a REAP declaration if Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs) were last notified before 1 July 2022. After 31 December 2022, all EISs, regardless of when the SEARs were last notified, must include a declaration by a REAP.

Which agencies do I need to engage with?

For industry-specific SEARs, the applicant is responsible for identifying which government agencies they should consult during preparation of the EIS.

These should include agencies that:

  • are relevant to the project
  • you need to, or would otherwise have needed to seek an approval from as per section 4.41 and 4.42 of the EP&A Act

For help identifying which agencies you need to engage with, please contact the department‘s assessment team.

For project-specific SEARs, the department will advise which agencies applicants should engage with during preparation of the EIS.

General agency engagement advice

All agency engagement should follow the Undertaking Engagement Guidelines for State Significant Projects. Agency contact details can be found in the agency directory.

Applicants should start consulting with agencies at least six weeks before submitting an EIS. This will allow enough time for feedback to be considered and any additional follow up engagement. Engagement should continue throughout the exhibition, assessment, construction and operation of a project.

Prior to contacting an agency, applicants should have:

  • reviewed the SEARs for the project and any other published guidance
  • engaged relevant consultants
  • prepared a scope of works for the project, including preliminary documentation (for example, site survey or architectural drawings)
  • identified relevant impacts and the methodology for their assessment
  • formed key questions to guide discussions.
What happens after the EIS has been completed?

Once complete, the applicant must submit the DA in the approved form on the NSW planning portal along with the EIS.

The department will then notify the applicant of the applicable DA fee.

After payment has been received, the application is considered lodged.