Strategic assessment of Melbourne’s urban growth boundary

Under national environment law—the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act)—the federal environment minister may agree to undertake a strategic assessment on the impacts of actions under a policy, plan or program.

Background

In December 2008, the Victorian Department of Planning and Community Development released a report entitled Melbourne @ 5 million. The report provided forecasts for Melbourne’s future population growth, and detailed the need to accommodate an additional 600,000 new dwellings over the next 20 years within a revised urban growth boundary.

Agreement

On 4 March 2009, the federal environment minister signed an agreement with the Victorian Government to undertake a strategic assessment under national environment law of the expansion of Melbourne’s urban growth boundary. On 16 June 2009, the strategic assessment agreement and terms of reference were amended to better reflect the intention of this assessment.

Strategic assessment agreement with the finalised terms of reference (PDF - 1.63 MB)

Strategic assessment agreement - Attachments (PDF - 232.37 KB)
Strategic assessment agreement - Attachments (RTF - 3.11 MB)

Public comment

The Victorian Government released a series of draft reports for public comment between 17 June and the 17 July 2009 including:

  • Delivering Melbourne's Newest Sustainable Communities: a report describing the urban growth boundary expansion,
  • Delivering Melbourne's Newest Sustainable Communities: a report describing the regional rail link,
  • Delivering Melbourne's Newest Sustainable Communities: a report describing the outer Melbourne ring road, and
  • Delivering Melbourne's Newest Sustainable Communities: a report describing the impacts on nationally protected matters for the strategic assessment (EPBC Act).

Endorsement

On 2 February 2010, the federal environment minister endorsed the program document Delivering Melbourne's Newest Sustainable Communities: Program report (December 2009). This was the first strategic assessment in Australia to reach the endorsement stage. The endorsement of this program allows the minister to consider giving approval to actions that are taken in accordance with the endorsed program.

Signed Endorsement Notice - Signed Endorsement for the Melbourne Urban Growth Boundary (PDF - 19 KB)

Approvals

The Minister has approved four classes of actions under the endorsed program.

Regional rail link project (PDF - 898.73 KB)

Melbourne 28 precincts (PDF - 1.23 MB)

Melbourne's Northern, North Western and Western Growth Corridors (PDF - 973.26 KB)
Melbourne's Northern, North Western and Western Growth Corridors (DOCX - 203.7 KB)

Melbourne's South Eastern Growth Corridor (PDF - 1.47 MB)
Melbourne's South Eastern Growth Corridor (DOCX - 91.24 KB)

Conservation Strategies

The endorsed Program included a commitment by the Victorian Government to prepare a Biodiversity Conservation Strategy for the four growth corridors, and accompanying sub-regional strategies for the growling grass frog, golden sun moth and southern brown bandicoot, and for these strategies to be approved by the minister.

The minister has approved the following strategies:

  1. Biodiversity Conservation Strategy for Melbourne's Growth Corridors (Victorian Government Department of Environment and Primary Industries, June 2013) - approved 2 August 2013
  2. Sub-regional Species Strategy for the Golden Sun Moth (Victorian Government Department of Environment and Primary Industries, May 2013) - approved 2 August 2013
  3. Sub-regional Species Strategy for the Growling Grass Frog (Victorian Government Department of Environment and Primary Industries, May 2013) - approved 2 August 2013
  4. Sub-regional Species Strategy for the Southern Brown Bandicoot (Victorian Government Department of Environment and Primary Industries, January 2014) and Supplement: Habitat Connectivity (Victorian Government Department of Environment and Primary Industries, July 2014) - approved 7 August 2014.

The Biodiversity Conservation Strategy has identified 36 conservation areas by applying the protection requirements of the approved prescriptions for matters of national environmental significance. The requirements in the prescriptions relating to offsetting, salvage and translocation and conservation management plans have been incorporated into the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy. Implementation of the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy will therefore give effect to the prescriptions to ensure protection of matters of national environmental significance.

The strategies can be downloaded from the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries website.

Prescriptions for matters of national environmental significance

On 16 April 2010,  the federal environment minister approved several prescriptions for ecological communities and threatened species associated with the Melbourne strategic assessment. These prescriptions specify requirements for protection of nationally protected matters that must be followed in preparing precinct structure plans and in undertaking individual developments. Prescriptions have been approved for:

  • Natural temperate grasslands of the Victorian Volcanic Plain
  • Grassy eucalypt woodland of the Victorian Volcanic Plain
  • Golden sun moth
  • Striped legless lizard
  • Southern brown bandicoot
  • Growling grass frog
  • Matted flax-lily
  • Spiny rice-flower
  • Migratory species.

These prescriptions can be found on the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries' website.

Victorian Government websites for the Melbourne strategic assessment

Changes to Melbourne's urban growth boundary

The expansion of Melbourne's urban growth boundary passed through the Victorian Parliament (amendment VC68). This amendment put in place Public Acquisition Overlays for the 15,000 hectare Western Grassland reserve. The Victorian Government gazetted this amendment on 6 August 2010.

More detailed information on the amendment can be found on the Victorian Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure's website.

In 2011, the Victorian Government identified an additional 6000 hectares of land for 'logical inclusions' in the growth corridors. These 'logical inclusions' are not covered by the endorsed Program and any actions likely to have a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance in these areas will require separate EPBC Act referral, assessment and approval.

Further information on these 'logical inclusions' is on the Victorian Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure at: Logical Inclusions Advisory Committee.

Further information