Program - IA Symposium - Reimagining approvals - Strategic approaches to support Impact Assessment

Dates and location

15 - 16 Feb 2018. Offices and GHD, Level 8, 180 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Day 1 – Practice

8:30 – 10:15 - Session 1: Introduction, Strategic Approaches IA and Strategic Case studies

Chair – Carolyn Cameron

1.     Introduction, context setting and progress on strategic approaches in IA  – 15 minutes

Carolyn Cameron, Cameron Strategies

Clarify the purpose of the symposium and setting the context.

There is a ground swell of professional interest in more strategic approaches to impact assessment  and particularly Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) in Australia and New Zealand.  For example in 2017 interested EIANZ practitioners around the country participated in a SEA working group, developing position papers on SEA in each jurisdiction and case studies to share.   A major focus of the group has been on articulating and refining principles for SEA in Australia and New Zealand.  These were workshopped at our Roundtable on SEA at the EIANZ conference in Wellington last November and will be posted around the room in Melbourne for further input.

2.     Overview of the status of IA in Australian jurisdictions – 10 minutes

Garry Middle, VisionEnvironment

Review of the status of IA in Australian jurisdictions document and discussion of any issues that emerge

3.     Application of Sustainability and Strategic Environmental Assessment Principles in the Management of Ports – 15 minutes

Simona Duke and Julie Keane, North Queensland Bulk Port

This paper focuses on how an approach which integrates sustainability and strategic environmental assessment can be implemented to effectively achieve sustainable development outcomes for NQBP’s Great Barrier Reef Ports. Specifically, it draws on experiences from the Port of Abbot Point, in Central Queensland.

4.     A strategic approach to supporting wind farm development in Victoria – 15 minutes

Jack Krohn, Senior Impact Assessor, Impact Assessment Unit, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Victorian Renewable Energy Target scheme is encouraging a new generation of wind farm proposals across Victoria. This scheme also sets new industry standards for community engagement and community benefit sharing. This paper will outline how strategic approaches are being used to facilitate wind farm development in Victoria while managing impacts through project assessment procedures, and explore the limitations of current practices. 





5.     Models for Coordinating Approvals and Procurement Processes – A Strategic Choice – 15 minutes

David Hyett, Industry Director-Environment, AECOM

A key strategic decision for transport infrastructure proponents is how to coordinate their approvals and procurement processes. These strategic choices have a bearing on the approach to impact assessment and stakeholder engagement and the timing of project delivery.

It is proposed to provide an overview of the different models for coordinating approvals and procurement and describe the interrelationship.  Different models will be illustrated with reference to the Metro Tunnel Project and the West Gate Tunnel Project.  In recent times in Victoria, it has been typical to use a Reference Design as the basis for impacts assessment of linear transport projects. Use of a Tender Design is a less common approach. The pros and cons of using a Tender Design as the basis for an impact assessment will be explored.

6.     Strategic assessment of Perth-Peel@3.5 million – lessons learnt to-date – 15 minutes

Garry Middle, VisionEnvironment

Perth and Peel@3.5million” is a strategic plan for a Perth-Peel region to accommodate a population of 3.5 million people – called the ‘Framework documents’. ). So as to avoid case-by-case environmental assessments by both the Commonwealth under the EPBC Act and the WA EPA, it has been agreed that a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) be carried out of the Framework documents covering both the Commonwealth and EPA assessments. This presentation will address both these gains and problems as experienced to-date because of these two strategic assessments as a ‘lesson learnt’ narrative.

7.     Discussion – 20 minutes


10:15 – 10:45 - Morning tea


10:45 – 12:15 – Session 2: Strategic participation and different strategic approaches to IA

Chair: Garry Middle

1.     Recap of session 1 – key strategic issues that emerged – 5 minutes

2.     Social Impact Assessment – a different way of approaching environmental approvals – 15 minutes

Rachel Maas, Principal Social Scientist, Just Add Lime; Lara Mottee, PhD candidate Macquarie, University/University of Groningen

This paper is based on the premise that a ‘social impact’ is anything linked to a project that affects or concerns any impacted stakeholder group. Therefore, almost anything can be a social impact so long as it is valued or important to a specific group of people. We propose introduce Social Impact Assessment as the tool to identify impacts at project inception (i.e. before the legislative environmental approval process has begun) and across the life of a project. This approach broadens the scope of a SIA from a technical study undertaken as part of a environmental approval process to a management strategy to manage social risks of the project in a way that develops or maintains a proponents’ and regulators social licence to operate.

3.     Landscape IA: The Great Victoria Desert Trust Fund – 15 minutes

Garry Middle, VisionEnvironment

The Great Victoria Desert Trust was established as a central component of the biodiversity offsets package set on the for the Tropicana Joint Venture project. The Tropicana Gold Mine was assessed as likely to have a significant residual impact on biodiversity in particular species of national significance. Anglo Gold – the proponent of the mine – decided to adopt a different approach to the offset - the dollar amount of the calculated offset was set aside to be managed by a Trust fund. The Trust adopts a strategic and landscape approach to using these funds. This paper draws on the experience of the Trust to suggest how IA could be used to address environmental protection  at the landscape level.


4.     Exploring stakeholder expectations from IA literature – 15 minutes

Megan Jones, PhD Candidate - Environmental Impact Assessment, School of Science, Edith Cowan University

A plurality of views exists on what impact assessment (IA) is expected to provide to different stakeholders. Despite this, explicit research on stakeholders’ expectations of IA has been limited. This results is expectations being implicitly assumed for a number of broad stakeholder groups by those involved in the process. This research proposes there is more to stakeholder expectations than has previously been explored. This analysis forms part of my broader PhD thesis ‘What can be expected of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) processes?; the results of which are likely to contribute to strategic engagement with the community and stakeholders.

5.     Holistic Impact Assessment – A View from the West – 15 minutes

Angus Morrison-Saunders, Edith Cowan University

The practice of impact assessment (and especially EIA) has long been accused of being reductionist and non-strategic in nature. Recent changes to EIA policy materials in Western Australia include provision for Holistic Impact Assessment to be undertaken by proponents in their environmental review documents and the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) itself in its assessment of proposals. The holistic impact assessment concept is an important reimagining of EIA that (theoretically at least) emulates the underpinning sustainable development intentions of the process and should promote a more strategic approach to EIA. This presentation will outline the state of play in WA around this concept and prompt discussion from delegates regarding comparable practice elsewhere in Australia and New Zealand.

6.     Discussion – 25 minutes


12:10 – 1:00 – Lunch


1:00 – 2:30 - Session 3: Strategic methodologies within IA

Chair: Lachlan Wilkinson, JBS&G

1.     Recap of session 2 – key strategic issues that emerged – 5 minutes

2.     Value of ESHIA Hindcast Assessments to Strategic Impact Assessment – 15 minutes

Russell D. Tait Tait & Associates Pty Ltd, Beaumaris, Victoria

Environmental, Socioeconomic and Health Impact Assessments (ESHIAs) are considerable undertakings that are performed to identify and evaluate environmental, socioeconomic and health (ESH) aspects of an activity/project and their associated potential impacts, evaluate appropriate alternatives, and propose measures to address ESH risks. However, a project’s ESHIA process and the subsequent Environmental, Socioeconomic and Health Management Plan [ESHMP], are infrequently revisited during an asset’s operational life. Systematic ESHIA/ESHMP hindcasts offer the opportunity to capture lessons learned, identify opportunities to improve the process by which ESHIAs and ESHMPs are synthesized, and develop and implement enhanced environmental, social and health risk management measures, as well as feed back into Strategic Impact Assessments (SIAs). Key elements and outcomes from hindcasts are considered in advancing SIAs. Some case examples will be summarised.

3.     Title: Lessons learned about strategic environmental condition setting in Victoria – 15 minutes

Kathryn Friday, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Victorian impact assessments have been taking a strategic approach to setting environmental conditions for some of it's larger projects over the past 10 years or so. This approach was initiated for Public Private Partnership projects where reference designs were being assessed and flexibility was being sought to allow the procurement process to deliver innovative design and impact management proposals. Key elements of this approach are an environmental management framework and environmental performance measures that are informed by the impact assessment process. Environmental performance requirements set the environmental standards or outcomes that the project must achieve. We have applied this approach to six projects and private proponents are showing interest in it. This presentation will outline what we’ve learned about strategic condition setting and remaining challenges.

4.     Aquatic Ecology in IA: How complicated can it be? – 15 minutes

Marcus P. Lincoln Smith, MEIANZ, CEnvP (ecology)

The application of aquatic ecology in IA brings together a heritage of scientific research that has developed in parallel with IA since the 1970s, a broad regulatory environment and extensive knowhow from local practitioners. Successful outcomes will rely on accurate predictions of impacts, appropriate environmental management (including monitoring, mitigation and adaptive approaches) and ability to identify and apply lessons from case studies (e.g. past EIAs and post-approval environmental management). This process will involve participation not only by EIA practitioners but also the regulators tasked with approving development. A key element of aquatic ecology as applied IA is ensuring that aquatic baselines are understood, factored into assessments and monitored appropriately to understand the nature of change brought about by development. Doing appropriate IA requires meaningful collaboration among practitioners, scientists and regulators. This presentation examines a range of case studies and considers ways in which collaboration among these groups has or could have determined significant positive outcomes.

5.     Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) as a tool for Intensive Agriculture Strategies – 15 minutes

Anne Dansey, Senior Project Manager, Department of Economic Development Jobs, Transport and Resources

The Animal Industries Policy area of the DEDJTR was tasked with updating the Piggeries, Cattle feedlot and Broiler codes, as well as incorporating existing animal industries, who previously did not have a code (eg. dairy), and new and emerging industries that had become more intensive (eg. sheep/goats).  The development of the code is part of a broader Sustainable Intensification of Agriculture goal for the agriculture division. The codes cover environment and community amenity impacts with animal welfare and biosecurity legislation being complementary but outside the scope of the project. This presentation describes the strategic framework set by the Guidelines and their relationship to impact assessment

6.     Discussion – 25 minutes


2:30 – 3:00 - Afternoon tea


3:00 – 5:00 - Session 4: Open space forum-  Strategic approaches to support Impact Assessment

Chairs – Carolyn Cameron and Tanya Burdett, Director, Burdett Associates Pty Ltd and PhD candidate

•       Approach and plenary discussion

•       Topic-based discussions - Principles, other emerging issues from the day

•       Concluding thoughts, recommendations and ideas for moving things forward










Day 2 – Research and teaching in IA – addressing the strategic

8:30 – 10:30 - Session 1: Research open forum

Chair – Garry Middle

1.     Recap of day 2

2.     What are we doing in the IA space, especially strategic approaches and issues?

3.     What are the research opportunities that emerge? Identifying some collaborative research projects.

4.     Building links between research and practice – how do we better engage and communicate with practitioners?

10:30 – 11:00 - Morning tea

11:00 – 1pm – Session 2: On Teaching Impact Assessment – A Workshop

Chairs – Jenny Pope and Angus Morrison-Saunders

What is the key to successful teaching of impact assessment? This workshop is aimed to bring together academics engaged in teaching impact assessment, whether as professional training courses or at higher education institutions. An open forum and discussion is planned. The workshop marks the beginning of a process of compiling a book on Teaching EIA for Edward Elgar to be included in their teaching series publications. Potential contributors to the book are currently being sought. It is also hoped to develop best practice principles for teaching IA that might form part of the IAIA suite of best practice guides. In this light the following questions are intended to guide workshop discussion:

·       How do you teach IA?

·       What do you consider to be the key principles for effectively teaching IA?

·       What kinds of teaching activities do you utilise for particular stages (e.g. screening, scoping, … follow-up) or components of IA (e.g. impact prediction, cumulative effects, adaptive management, community engagement etc)? These might be classroom exercises, assignment tasks, or simply the design of individual lessons or training sessions.


1:00 – 2:30 – Working lunch – pulling things together

Chair – Garry Middle

How can we contribute to more strategic approaches in IA? Research, teaching and advocacy?

What about our students – how do we teach, encourage and assessment strategic thinking and approaches in IA?