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Step 5 - Prepare a Statement of Environmental Effects

A Statement of Environmental Effects is a short report that recognises and explains the likely impacts of the proposal and how you will minimise these impacts.  The statement includes written information about your proposal that cannot be readily shown on your plans and drawings.

The planning legislation requires all DAs, except for designated development, to include a Statement of Environmental Effects.

Only a very brief statement is required for proposals likely to have little impact, eg. internal alterations, and certain minor residential building work (except heritage items or a heritage conservation area).  You must however explain why there will be little impact.

What to include?

Your Statement of Environmental Effects should address all the issues that are applicable to your proposal. 

The following is a guide to the concerns relevant to different types of development proposals. However, we recommend that you check with us for any requirements that specifically relate to your proposal or the site.

  • Site suitability

    Required for all applications except minor alterations or additions.  Show that the site is suitable for the proposed development. Relevant considerations include:

    • Site constraints such as slope, flooding, geo-technical and ground water issues (provide a hydrological and geotechnical report by a qualified engineer where the proposal involves excavation exceeding 0.5 metres).
    • Proximity to transport services, shops, community and recreational facilities.
    • Compatibility with adjoining development.
    • Compatibility with visual setting (foreshore, streetscape).
    • Compatibility with land zoning.
    • Size and shape of the allotment.
    • Local planning objectives 
    • Age and condition of buildings.
  • Present and previous uses of the land

    Required for all applications. This helps council understand the history of development on the site.  It is particularly important for applications proposing a change of land use.  You will need to provide the following details:

    • Present use of the site.
    • Date the present use commenced.
    • Previous uses of the site (if known).
    • Present uses of adjoining land.
    • Whether the present or any previous use is a potentially contaminating activity (eg workshop, service station, land filling, lead paint removal, termite treatment).
    • A statement as to whether or not you are aware that the site is contaminated land.
    • Whether there has been any testing or assessment of the site for land contamination.
  • Compliance with development standards

    Required for all applications, except minor additions, outbuildings and changes of use.  Show how your proposal complies with the relevant statutory development standards, such as:

    • Site area.
    • Density (floor space ratio).
    • Height (wall height and overall height).
    • Landscaped area. 
    • You will need to determine the planning instrument that is applicable to your land. A check of council’s online zoning maps will help you with this. 
  • Design guidelines

    Required for all multi-unit housing and mixed residential commercial. Show how your proposal satisfies relevant site planning and design guidelines. Relevant considerations include:

    • Streetscape.
    • Topography.
    • Setbacks.
    • Building envelope.
    • Fences.
    • Local context and building character, including massing, roof design, veranda’s, balconies, windows, materials and decorative detailing.
  • Operation and management

    Required for commercial and industrial proposals, entertainment facilities, late night trading premises, hotels, motels, boarding houses, bed and breakfast and backpacker accommodation.  Describe how the establishment will operate:

    • Type of business.
    • Number of staff.
    • Expected number of customers or clients.
    • Hours and days of operation.
    • Number of patrons and building safety (for entertainment venues).
    • Plant, machinery, production processes.
    • Type and quantity of goods handled such as raw materials, finished products, waste products.
    • Arrangements for transport, loading and unloading of goods (give details of frequency of truck movements and size of vehicles).
    • Hazardous materials and processes.
    • Noise control.
    • Complaints management.
    • Servicing arrangements.

    The plan of management must show how your activity will be managed to minimise adverse amenity impacts.

  • Access and traffic

    Required for all proposals except minor additions or alterations.

    If your proposal is likely to be a major traffic generator you must include a traffic impact assessment report prepared by a qualified transport consultant.  If your proposal is not a major traffic generator you will still need to show that there is adequate provision for access, including:

    • Vehicle access to a public road (indicate grade).
    • Parking calculations.
    • Resident, staff, customer, client and visitor parking arrangements.
    • Existing public transport services.
    • Proposed traffic management measures to resolve any conflicts between vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.
    • Pedestrian amenity (paving, seats, weather protection, security lighting).
    • Proposed bicycle facilities (racks, lockers, showers).
  • General accessibility

    Required for all new buildings and alterations and additions other than for dwelling-houses. Show how the proposed development provides easy access and useable areas for everyone in accordance with the Disability Discrimination Act.  Consider the needs of people with walking difficulties or sensory impairments, wheelchair users and people with young children.  You should consider:

    • Parking arrangements.
    • Access to and within the development.
    • Toilet facilities.
    • Certain types of developments (eg, aged persons housing) may need a Building Code of Australia assessment.
  • Privacy, view and overshadowing

    Required for all new buildings and alterations and additions, except internal alterations.  Show how the proposed development will affect privacy, views and sunlight access:

    Visual privacy

    • Window placement relative to adjacent dwellings and common areas.
    • Views between living rooms and the private yards of other dwellings.
    • Use of screen planting, hedges, walls, or fences to improve privacy.
    • Headlight glare, light spillage.

    Acoustic privacy

    • Placement of active use outdoor areas relative to bedrooms.
    • Separation of roads, parking areas and driveways from bedroom and living room windows.
    • Noise transmission between dwellings/buildings.
    • Measures to mitigate external noise sources (eg, traffic noise, placement of air conditioners, exhaust systems, pool pumps).


    • Impact of the proposed development on views from adjoining or nearby properties.  Where significant views are likely to be affected by the proposal (such as nearby development that has water views), we recommend including photomontages of the proposal that show the proposal’s impact on views from affected properties.
    • Design options for protecting views eg, minimising the loss of views.
    • Views from the proposed development.


    • Provide an analysis of your shadow diagrams prepared by your architect or surveyor.
    • Consider shadows from adjoining buildings as well as from the proposed development.
  • Air and noise

    Required for all hotel, entertainment, commercial and industrial proposals, except minor additions and alterations.  Show how the proposal will not cause, or be affected by, air or noise emissions.


    • Existing or proposed sources of odour or fumes (on-site or nearby) - industries, food premises, exhaust systems, waste storage, oil or wood burning stoves or heaters.


    • Where noise is a major design issue, include a report prepared by a qualified acoustic consultant.
    • Existing and proposed noise sources (onsite and nearby): main roads, industries, transport terminals, loading bays, heavy vehicles, restaurants, entertainment facilities, clubs, hotels, amplified music systems, car parks, ventilation and air conditioning units, pumps and pool filters.
    • Proposed mitigation measures, including odour control: placement and height of flues or chimneys, location of waste storage areas and compost heaps.
    • Proposed noise reduction measures: noise barriers, building layout and setback, room layout and window placement, building materials, insulation, double glazing.
    • Construction noise - hours of operation, type of equipment, maximum noise levels, compliance with EPA guidelines.
  • Drainage
    Required for all new buildings, alterations and additions that involve changes to stormwater drainage.  Show how the proposal will deal with all aspects of drainage on the site:
    • Have you proposed measures to maximise infiltration and minimise water runoff? (eg, porous pavements, mulching and ground covers, low water demand native plants, rainwater tanks for garden watering).
    • Stormwater drainage - proposed management controls for flows entering within and leaving the site, proposed on-site detention calculations prepared by a consulting engineer, justification that the proposed design measures will not increase stormwater runoff or adversely affect flooding on other land.
    • Easements - provide copies of letters of intention to grant interallotment drainage easements across downstream properties.
    • Local flood mitigation measures.
  • Erosion and sediment control

    Required for all proposals that involve excavation, earthworks or clearing.  Show how you propose to prevent erosion and control sediment on the site, including soil and erosion hazard characteristics, and potential for impact on adjacent land and waterways.
    Explain how your erosion and sediment control strategy will work. Consider areas requiring special management, including proposed dust control measures and proposed site maintenance strategy.

  • Heritage

    If your proposal involves work on a heritage item, heritage conservation area, moving or excavating an aboriginal relic or object, or subdivision of land that contains a heritage item, a Statement of Heritage Impact is required.

  • Energy efficiency

    Required for all residential development (including alterations and additions).  Show how the proposal promotes energy efficiency:

    • Orientation - does the design maximise living areas facing north? Will windows and solar collectors have good solar access? Show how energy efficiency requirements have influenced the siting, design and landscaping of the proposal.
    • Sun control - proposed awnings, pergolas, blinds, and trees to maximise summer shade and minimise winter shade.
    • Insulation - proposed roof, ceiling, wall and floor insulation; double glazing, door and window seals.
    • Natural ventilation - will window placement maximise cross ventilation?
    • Heating, cooling and lighting - have energy efficient heating, cooling and lighting systems been specified?
    • Clothes drying - is there an outdoor drying space with solar access?
  • Waste

    Required for all proposals except dwelling houses and minor additions or alterations to non-residential buildings.  Show how the proposal promotes waste minimisation (avoid, re-use, recycle):

    • Proposed at-source waste separation program and facilities: aluminium, steel, glass, plastics, food and organic waste, etc.
    • Proposed recycling collection from hotel, entertainment, commercial and industrial premises.
    • Domestic food and organic waste composting.
    • Litter control program (for activities such as takeaway food, sporting venues, etc).
    • Proposed waste storage areas.
    • How will building and demolition waste be used, recycled or disposed?
    • Arrangements for hazardous building wastes such as asbestos and contaminated soil.
    • Your waste management plan should demonstrate that you have included the above objectives in your proposal.
  • Site management

    Required for all proposals involving building works except minor alterations and additions and outbuildings.  Show how the construction site will be managed to ensure public safety and to minimise public inconvenience:

    • Perimeter fencing to restrict public access to the construction site.
    • Proposed hoardings or other enclosures to the site.
    • Location of proposed site amenity facilities, storage of building materials and equipment, bulk waste containers and material stockpiles.
    • How will you maintain safe pedestrian access adjacent to the site?
    • Access points for construction.
    • Method/s of demolition.
    • Dust control methods. 
  • Photography

    It is recommended that where you are proposing to do external works, photographs be included with your application.  This information is invaluable to the assessment officers and to other persons involved in the processing of your development application.

    Applications for residential apartments or new commercial and industrial buildings must be accompanied by photomontages of the proposal.  This should be in the form of computer-generated images, or other such technology, showing how the proposed building sits into the existing streetscape.

  • Additional SEPP 65 developments

    In addition to the items listed above for inclusion in your Statement of Environmental Effects, there are additional items required where the building is defined in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation as a “residential flat building”.

    Council considers that a model is appropriate, and therefore a 3D Google Sketchup model must be included with any development application for a residential apartment building (as defined in SEPP 65).

  • Submission requirements for detailed facade section

    Detailed facade sections are important as they allow for an understanding of the appropriateness of the materials used in the development.  They also assist in the assessment of solar access, privacy impacts and other impacts of the proposal.  

  • Additional requirements for development of bushfire prone land

    Development applications on bushfire prone land must be accompanied by a Bush Fire Assessment Report demonstrating compliance with the aim and objectives of Planning for Bushfire Protection 2006 (published by the Rural Fire Service) and the specific objectives and performance criteria for the land use proposed.  For most single dwellings the report can be done using the Single Dwelling Application Kit available from the NSW Rural Fire Service

  • Biodiversity

    If you are applying for development consent under Part 4 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, your development may have impacts on biodiversity through either vegetation clearing or prescribed impacts. If these impacts occur, the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme is triggered and an Accredited Assessor will need to submit a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report (BDAR) to accompany any Development Application submission.

    Information on the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme can be found on the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment website.

    A summary of the triggers to the Biodiversity Offset Scheme are detailed below:

    1. The development is located or infringing on the Biodiversity Values Map
    2. The development exceeds the following area clearing threshold; or
    3. The impacts are considered significant under Section 7.3 of the Act.

    BOS Area Clearing Thresholds

    Minimum lot size of land Area of clearing
    Less than 1 hectare 0.25 hectare or more
    Less than 40 hectares but not less than 1 hectare 0.5 hectare or more

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