Planning for amenity, health and safety buffers

By on January 28, 2020

CMPA’s submission to the proposed Planning for health amenity and safety buffers questionnaire prepared by Dr Elizabeth Gibson.


“The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is proposing updates to the Planning Policy Framework and Clause 53.10 of the Victoria Planning Provisions. DELWP’s (our) proposed updates aim to improve the way the planning system addresses buffers for amenity, human health and safety impacts.

How best to manage the interface between industries and sensitive uses is a longstanding planning issue. Noise, dust, odour and other off-site impacts can pose amenity, health and safety risks to communities, while encroachment of sensitive uses, such as residential development, can threaten the ongoing viability of industries.

Currently, planning approaches to address buffer issues can be complex, which leads to inconsistent decision-making. (

The proposed updates to planning provisions are said to strengthen policy for managing buffers, clarify how industries and other uses need to respond to the potential for off-site impacts and include up-to-date standards and guidelines.”

Submissions to DELWP were required to be in the form of answering questions proposed by DELWP as given below.

1a. Updates to the Planning Policy Framework (Clause 13.07-1S)

  • Including human health and safety impacts within the scope of the clause is important.

CMPA: Neither agree nor disagree

  • The additional and updated strategies adequately support the need to protect existing industrial, commercial and other uses from encroachment.

CMPA: Disagree

  • It is helpful to include the current EPA guideline on separation distances as a policy document.

CMPA: Agree

1b. Do you have any other comments about elements of the draft Clause 13.07-1S? (Optional)

CMPA comments:

  • Human health and safety is covered in the Environment Protection Act 2017.
  • Safety is also covered in the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004.

2a. Updates to Clause 53.10

  • The operation of the clause will be clearer than it is now, including how it links to zones and referral provisions.

CMPA: Disagree

  • The updated list of “sensitive zones” where the threshold distance applies is relevant.

CMPA: Neither agree nor disagree

  • The list of uses and activities seems appropriate.

CMPA: Disagree

  • The threshold distances for uses and activities seem appropriate.

CMPA: Disagree

  • It is clear how to measure and apply the threshold distances.

CMPA: Disagree

  • How referrals operate is clear with the replacement of Note 1 and Note 2.

CMPA: Disagree

2b. Do you have any other comments about elements of the draft Clause 53.10?

For example: Operation and how it works; Uses and activities; Threshold distances

CMPA Comments:

  • There appears to be a concerted effort to increase the councils say in the ‘use’ of land regardless of zoning by reducing uses which do not trigger a use planning permit.
  • The addition of Rural Living Zone particularly will reduce the number of sites which do not trigger ‘use’ planning permits.
  • The introduction of a strategy to “Protect existing commercial, industrial and other uses from encroachment by use or development that would compromise the ability of those uses to function safely and effectively” is a positive step for existing quarries, but may prove a point of contention for greenfield sites. It remains unclear that the ‘Agent of Change’ principle in the Joint Ministerial Statement (Planning and Resources 2018) has been incorporated into these changes for quarries.
  • The refinement of the strategy to “Avoid or otherwise minimise adverse off-site impacts from commercial, industrial and other uses through siting, building design and operational measures” will allow for tools like Design and Development Overlays to be applied and allow innovative development closer than previously possible.
  • The introduction of specific reference to the EPA’s Recommended separation distances for industrial residual air emissions may be a positive step given it is not linked to 53.10 as it presently stands.
  • The changes to buffer distances in the areas the quarry industry generally work in have increased or rely upon referral to EPA. Industry requires the supporting evidence to be made available.
  • Reading the comments by 64 submitters, it is disappointing that there is no formal requirement to identify potential buffer impacts on surrounding land at sale or transfer (s.173 or within the s.32).

A draft Buffer Area Overlay to strengthen planning tools to better manage land use and development in areas potentially affected by a range of health and safety impacts from industry and other uses has been subsequently developed by DELWP from feedback received and is currently open for comment until 17 February 2020.

More on the developments of buffers and planning will be in the next issue of Sand & Stone (109).

Please contact Dr Elizabeth Gibson if you have any further comments on the draft Buffer Area Overlay.

Phone: 03 5781 0655

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