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Metro Tunnel

Statutory assessment and approvals

The Metro Tunnel project has undergone an extensive and robust planning assessment process.

Note: the Metro Tunnel Project is referred to as either Melbourne Metro or the Melbourne Metro Rail Project in earlier planning documents.

Project declaration

In June 2015, a Project outline (PDF, 642.5 KB) [Word version (DOCX, 1.1 MB)] was prepared to inform the Minister for Planning in his consideration of whether to declare the Metro Tunnel Project as 'public works' under Section 3 of the Environment Effects Act 1978.

In September 2015, the Premier of Victoria declared the Metro Tunnel Project to be a project to which the Major Transport Projects Facilitation Act 2009 (other than Parts 3 and 8) applies.

The project has been declared for the purpose of applying the project delivery, land assembly, and utilities powers under the Act. For the purpose of planning and environmental approvals, the project was assessed through the Environment Effects Statement process.

The Premier of Victoria appointed the Minister for Public Transport as Project Minister for the Metro Tunnel Project.

The Minister for Public Transport appointed the Secretary to Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources as the Project Proponent.

Learn more about the Major Transport Projects Facilitation Act (external link).

Amending order for enabling works

On 24 November 2015, the Minister for Planning made an amendment to his original Order which declared the project to be public works. This amending Order excludes certain 'enabling works' from the Environment Effects Statement process. 'Enabling works' are works that might be initiated earlier than the main project works, before the conclusion of the EES process, in order to minimise disruption arising from the main works package.

The Minister's 'Reasons for Order', which explained the basis of his original 'public works' declaration in September 2015, indicated that the Minister would consider the treatment of proposed enabling works under the Environment Effects Act 1978 when there was more information about the potential for these works to have, or to be capable of having, a significant effect on the environment.

Rail Projects Victoria subsequently provided more information to the Minister for Planning about the nature of the enabling works and their potential effects, which informed his decision to amend the Order by excluding specific enabling works from the EES process. The Minister made this amending Order because he was satisfied that the enabling works would not have a significant effect on the environment.

The Amending Order was gazetted on 24 November. You can view the Gazette S361 on the Victorian Government Gazette website (external link).

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act referral

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act is the Commonwealth Government's key piece of environmental legislation. It provides a framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora and fauna, ecological communities and heritage places – typically referred to as Matters of National Environmental Significance.

As part of the planning for Metro Tunnel, Rail Projects Victoria submitted a referral under the EPBC Act. The document can be found on the Department of the Environment and Energy website (external link) by searching for referral number 2015/7549.

The referral document outlines Matters of National Environmental Significance within the project area and the approach that would be adopted to mitigate potential impacts of the project on these matters.

The Commonwealth Government has determined that the project is not a controlled action if undertaken in a particular manner. The decision requires the project to measure and monitor vibration when tunnelling passes the Victoria Barracks precinct, which is included on the Commonwealth heritage list.

Learn more about the EPBC referral process (external link).

Environment Effects Statement

In 2016 we published an Environment Effects Statement (EES), an evaluation of the potential environmental, social, and planning aspects of the project, and the approach to managing the impacts.

The Metro Tunnel EES documentation contains:

  • A description of the proposed project and existing environment that may be affected
  • An outline of public and stakeholder consultation undertaken during the investigation period and the issues raised
  • An assessment of potential environmental, social and planning effects of the project and relevant alternatives (within the project's general alignment)
  • Possible measures to avoid, minimise or manage adverse environmental effects
  • A proposed framework for monitoring and managing environmental effects during project delivery.

The EES was supported by a range of technical studies that identified and assessed the potential effects of the project and provide guidance on mitigation measures.

We also prepared a draft Planning Scheme Amendment (PSA). Changes to the Planning Scheme were recommended to protect the tunnels, stations and associated infrastructure and guide future development in their vicinity.

The EES, draft PSA and public submissions were presented to an Inquiry and Advisory Committee that considered the EES and prepared a report for the Minister for Planning.

In December 2016, the Minister for Planning released his Assessment. The Assessment has been provided to statutory decision-makers to inform approval decisions on this project, including for planning scheme amendments under the Planning and Environment Act 1987. View the details of the Assessment on the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning website (external link).

Further documents relating to the environmental assessment of the project can be found on the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning website's Melbourne Metro Rail Project page (external link).

Works in Parkville