The Major Transport Projects Facilitation Bill 2009
(Vic) (Bill) will facilitate the more
cost-efficient delivery of critical transport infrastructure
projects by creating a one-stop shop for the assessment and
approvals process. At this stage, it is estimated that the Bill
will commence on 1 November 2009.
The Bill is one of the new pieces of legislation introduced by
the Brumby Government as part of the Victorian Transport Plan. It
is envisaged that the Bill will expedite several key projects in
the Victorian Transport Plan such as Peninsula Link, Melbourne
Metro Rail, and completion of the M1 Monash-CityLink-West Gate
Scope of the Bill
The Bill will only apply to 'declared projects'. These
are transport infrastructure projects that are of economic, social
or environmental significance to the State or a region of the
State. The Governor and the Executive Council, on recommendation
from the Premier, may declare the projects to which the Bill will
apply. The Government will shortly release guidelines concerning
what types of transport projects are likely to qualify as
Features of the Bill
The Bill implements three key changes - the implementation of
two new assessment processes for projects, the creation of a
one-stop shop for all approvals, and the limitation of the ability
to review decisions.
'Declared projects' will either be assessed by the
Planning Minister (under the Impact Management Plan process), or by
an Assessment Committee appointed by the Planning Minister (those
projects requiring a Comprehensive Impact Statement). The Impact
Management Plan (IMP) assessment process will only be used for
projects involving land that is owned by a public authority or
reserved for a public purpose, as these only require limited
approvals and no public consultation. Projects that would have
typically triggered statutory approvals and public consultations
will be assessed under the Comprehensive Impact Statement (CIS)
The main difference between the two processes is that the CIS
will be exhibited for public comment with submissions reviewed by
an Assessment Committee. Although the CIS will take longer than the
IMP process, both these processes still aim to reduce the time
taken to assess and approve major transport projects by an average
of 12-15 months.
Once a project is 'declared', a public authority is
appointed to facilitate the development of the project. The
authority is responsible for addressing the requirements of the IMP
and CIS processes. Furthermore it has the power to initiate the
acquisition of land, negotiate with utility providers and act on
behalf of the Government in engaging contractors to undertake the
In addition to the public authority's streamlined project
delivery powers, the Minister for Planning will also have enhanced
decision-making powers. The Minister for Planning can determine all
required approvals but must do so within strict time limits. This
will facilitate the completion of major transport projects within a
shorter time frame. This one-stop shop will ensure greater
consistency in the approvals granted.
The Bill clearly aims to facilitate the faster delivery of major
transport projects. However, in order to achieve quicker completion
of projects, the ability to appeal or seek a review of decisions is
limited. The only decision that may be reviewed is the final
approval decision of the Minister for Planning.
Outcomes sought by the Bill
The Bill aims to significantly reduce the time required to plan,
approve and deliver specific major transport projects by creating a
single assessment and approvals process. This one-stop shop
approach will address current problems caused by multiple processes
and the duplication of approvals. Furthermore, the introduction of
the Bill will avoid the need for project-specific legislation used
in the past, such as the EastLink Projects Act 2004
The backdrop to the Major Transport Projects Facilitation Bill
is the $38 billion worth of projects proposed as part of the
Victorian Transport Plan. It is these types of projects -
'declared projects', those that are urgent, complex and
have major significance for the State - which will predominantly be
affected by the Bill.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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