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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 public authorities 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.

Proponent-led agency engagement

Applicants should now directly engage with agencies and councils via the Major Projects portal. Certain agencies that are not available on the Major Projects portal may be contacted directly using the contact details available in the agency directory.

Applicants should start consultation with public authorities at least six weeks before submitting an EIS. This will allow enough time for feedback to be considered and any additional follow up engagement where necessary.

Prior to contacting an agency, applicants should have:

  • reviewed the SEARs for the project and any other published guidance
  • engaged suitable consultants
  • undertaken due diligence on the site
  • 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.

Engagement should be proportionate to the scale and impact of a project. For complex and large-scale development, early engagement may be necessary. All public authority engagement should follow the Undertaking Engagement Guidelines for State Significant Projects

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.