EPA Environmental Audits data available in Victoria Unearthed includes environmental audits conducted in accordance with the current Environment Protection Act 2017 (EP Act 2017) and the former Environment Protection Act 1970 (EP Act 1970). 

EPA Environmental Audits most commonly take place when land is proposed for new use and is potentially contaminated, or if it is already covered by an Environmental Audit Overlay.

EPA Environmental Audits are generally requested by local councils, landowners or planning authorities, and are undertaken by EPA-appointed environmental auditors, who assess the suitability of a site for the proposed use and provide an environmental audit statement.

An audit report may outline if contamination exists, provide an assessment of the risk of harm from a particular activity, and list actions to manage or clean-up the site.

Since the system began in 1990, more than 4700 EPA Environmental Audits have taken place in Victoria.

The location of EPA Environmental Audits is included in Victoria Unearthed as they can help people understand more about potential contamination across the state.

When you use the Identify tool to click on an EPA Environmental Audit dot or shape, you may be able to access the audit report for that site, which provides more detail about the site history, the contamination status at a point in time, and the clean up or management activities required for the site to be suitable for the current or proposed use. If there is no audit report available, you can request this by contacting EPA.

EPA Environmental Audit information in Victoria Unearthed is managed by EPA and is updated on an ongoing basis. The Environmental Audit data layer is available for download from DataVic.

For more information on data quality, see Data quality: accuracy and reliability where Data Quality Statements are available for download.

EPA: Environmental audits

If an EPA Environmental Audit shows on the Victoria Unearthed map for your property, it means the site has had a completed environmental audit.

There are many reasons for an environmental audit, including when a former industrial site is to be redeveloped for a residential use and an audit is required by local government. It does not mean contamination was present, but that an investigation was undertaken.

In Victoria Unearthed, when you the Identify tool to click on an EPA Environmental Audit dot or shape, you may be able to access the audit report for that site, which provides more detail about the site history, the contamination status at a point in time, and the clean up or management activities required for the site to be suitable for the current or proposed use. However, please note that the existence of an environmental audit report does not guarantee that any or all of the conditions suggested in that audit have been implemented.

If there is no audit report available or you think EPA Environmental Audit information for your property is inaccurate, please contact EPA.

EPA: Environmental audits

EPA Environmental Audits appear on the Victoria Unearthed map as orange dots or orange outlined shapes with diagonal lines. The shapes may only be visible when you zoom in on the map to a scale of 1:250,000 or less. Shapes show a site boundary or area covered by an EPA Environmental Audit and the dots represent the site location.

In Victoria Unearthed, check you have the EPA Environmental Audits dataset (layer) on. You can turn it on via a button in the top toolbar of the map.

Click the Identify button on the top toolbar, then click on an orange dot or shape on the map, and more information including audit reports linked to that location will appear in the left sidebar results panel. You can also right-click on the map at any time and select “Find data on the map”.

Since the environmental audit system began in Victoria in 1990, EPA has maintained a list of properties with a completed environmental audit.

However, not all audit reports may be visible at any given time, and not every type of EPA Environmental Audit has been included in Victoria Unearthed. There are a range of factors for some reports not being visible, including, for example, Commercial-in-Confidence.

Please contact EPA if an audit report you are looking for is not visible.

EPA: Environmental audit reports online

Victoria Unearthed displays EPA Environmental Audit information under both the current EP Act 2017 and the former EP Act 1970.

Environment Protection Act 2017 audits

Under the current EP Act 2017, there are no distinct categories of environmental audits.

Environment Protection Act 1970 audits

Under the former EP Act 1970, the two categories of environmental audits that are shown on Victoria Unearthed are known as 53X and 53V.

Generally, a 53X (‘condition of the environment’) environmental audit was required when land proposed for new use was potentially contaminated or already covered by an Environmental Audit Overlay.

A 53X audit verified that potentially contaminated land may be used for a specific use (industrial, commercial or residential). From a 53X audit came either a certificate or statement of environmental audit.

A certificate of environmental audit indicated that the land is suitable for any use within the land use zoning – there are no restrictions on the use of the site due to its environmental condition.

A statement of environmental audit indicated the site is not suitable for any use; or suitable for a nominated use, subject to conditions and/or limitations in its use (local government is responsible for enforcing these conditions). Once a statement was issued, the site owner or occupier must use the site in a manner consistent with the issues outlined in the statement.

A 53V (‘risk of harm’) audit was most commonly used by EPA to understand the risk to the environment posed by an industrial activity, or to validate that cleanup of contaminated land or groundwater has occurred.

Read more about environmental audits, including audits generally conducted prior to 1 July 2021 and the transitional provisions between the 1970 and 2017 Acts at EPA – Environmental audits.

An Environmental Audit Overlay (EAO) signals that a particular site would require an environmental audit prior to that land being used for a more ‘sensitive use’, such as developing housing, building a primary school or an early childhood centre.

An EPA Environmental Audit identifies a site where an environmental audit has been completed.

Both EAO and EPA Environmental Audit information have been included in Victoria Unearthed because they can help Victorians identify sites of known or potential contamination, and may also provide some information about recommended or actual clean-up activities.

An EAO is a planning overlay and is not managed by EPA.

* Sensitive uses are defined as "residential use, childcare centre, kindergarten, pre-school centre, primary school, even if ancillary to another use), children's playground or secondary school" under Clause 13.04-1S of the Victorian Planning Provisions.

The EPA appoints environmental auditors under three categories: contaminated land, industrial facilities and natural resources.

For information on appointed environmental auditors visit the EPA Register of appointments.

Ministerial Direction No.1 – Potentially Contaminated Land requires planning authorities, when preparing planning scheme amendments, to satisfy themselves that the environmental conditions of land proposed to be used for a sensitive use (defined as residential, a childcare centre, preschool centre or primary school) will be suitable for that use.

For example, if land is proposed for a childcare centre and it is potentially contaminated, the planning authority (local council) must ensure the land is suitable for use through an environmental audit.

EPA’s role in the environmental audit system

The EPA website lists environmental audits regarding to land, groundwater, noise, odour, air quality, infrastructure, environmental management plans and others. Victoria Unearthed is primarily a resource for understanding potential land and groundwater contamination and therefore shows only a subset of audits from the EPA website — i.e. those related to land and groundwater contamination.

EPA: Environmental audit system

Page last updated: 28/07/23