Why is an EIS required?
Proponents are required to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for all SSI applications. The EIS must be prepared in accordance with the Planning Secretary’s environmental assessment requirements (SEARs) and have regard to the State Significant Infrastructure 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 approval 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?
The department will advise which government agencies proponents 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.
Proponents 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, proponents 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?
The completed EIS needs to be submitted via the NSW planning portal.
The department will notify the proponent of the relevant application fee and check the EIS. The EIS will then be put on exhibition and the community will be invited to have their say.