*VCAT appeal


Following EPA's issue of a works approval to Yumbah Aquaculture Ltd, an application for review of the decision was lodged with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). Now that this application to review the decision has been lodged with VCAT the decision is suspended until the application is withdrawn or the review is determined.

EPA notes the VCAT hearing process is established and controlled by VCAT – EPA does not set timeframes or requirements for VCAT reviews.

As the matter is now before VCAT, EPA cannot comment on the works approval.

On 15 April 2019, EPA granted a works approval to Yumbah Aquaculture Ltd to develop a new onshore abalone farm at Bolwarra, in south-western Victoria. Completion of final detailed design, construction and commissioning will all need to be consistent with the works approval before Yumbah Aquaculture can apply for an EPA operating licence. Further Yumbah will have to satisfy conditions set out on in Glenelg Shire Council's planning permit (noting that appeals have also been lodged to VCAT on the permit issued by Council on 9 April 2019), and the Marine and Coastal Act Consent, which was issued in February by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. Yumbah will also need to obtain an aquaculture licence from the Victorian Fisheries Authority prior to operating.

The works approval sets out stringent conditions for the construction of the farm to ensure the plant meets environmental performance standards into the future. During the commissioning of the farm, it is a requirement that Yumbah provide proof that they are meeting the required standards. They will also be required to have their construction and performance testing independently verified before they can apply for an EPA licence to operate the farm.

The decision followed many months of consultation and research, including consideration of over 370 submissions, as well as, community concerns and incorporated recommendations from the independent chair's report on the community conference held in December 2018.

EPA’s assessment of the application considered issues such as:

  • the proposed wastewater treatment system and potential effects of the wastewater discharge
  • noise
  • odour
  • groundwater
  • the principles of the Environment Protection Act 1970
  • biosecurity
  • environmental management and potential risks to human health and the environment.

The following documents are available to understand the decision:

  • summary of EPA's assessment
  • complete assessment report
  • works approval statutory document

Background

Yumbah Aquaculture Limited (Yumbah) is proposing to build a new abalone farm, Yumbah Nyamat, at Bolwarra, providing pipeline access to Portland Bay.

On 29 October 2018, the business submitted a final works approval application for the farm to EPA, as required under section 19B(c) of the Environment Protection Act 1970.

EPA and Glenelg Shire Council held a joint public information session on 12 November 2018, which was attended by more than 100 people.

Yumbah Aquaculture Limited (Yumbah) is proposing to build a new abalone farm, Yumbah Nyamat, at Bolwarra, providing pipeline access to Portland Bay. The proposed farm will include a hatchery, nursery and growout tanks, pumping seawater to the land-based farm, before discharging treated water through a series of outlet pipelines.

Yumbah currently operates an abalone farm at 68 Snapper Point Road, Narrawong, which produces 250 tonnes of abalone per annum for the Australian domestic and export market. Its EPA licence allows discharge of treated wastewater to Portland Bay.

Hard copy of the works approval application can be viewed at Glenelg Shire Council at 71 Cliff St, Portland.

Send written submissions regarding the application to:

A separate planning application is on Glenelg Shire Council’s website:

To enquire about the works approval application, email:

Yumbah Aquaculture Ltd proposes to construct a new abalone farm, Yumbah Nyamat, at Lots 1 and 8, 315 Dutton Way and Lot 2 Princes Highway, Bolwarra.

Producing 1000 tonnes of abalone per annum, Yumbah Nyamat will include a hatchery, nursery and growout tanks, pumping seawater to the land-based farm before discharging treated water through a series of outlet pipelines into Portland Bay.

The site is within an area zoned as Rural Living and was selected for its proximity and access to clean seawater necessary for optimum abalone growth and its low-lying topography, reducing energy consumption from pumping very large quantities of seawater through the farm. The low-lying land is protected by a rock armour seawall, providing protection from coastal erosion and future coastal impacts such as rising sea level.

The main development area is in the low-lying land in the southern portion of the site. Inlet and outfall pipelines will also extend southwards from the main part of the site in four easement corridors into Portland Bay. The closest residential receptors are located directly immediately to the north, between 76 and 297m to the southeast, 9 and 40m to the south and 48 m to the west of the activity boundary.

Wastewater from the abalone farm will pass through an onsite treatment system prior to discharge. In addition to reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from having a low pump head and efficient pump system, an onsite solar farm will provide up to 30 per cent of the farm’s energy needs.

Key environmental issues are

  • discharge of wastewater into Portland Bay and the potential effects of the discharge
  • energy consumption
  • noise generated from the pumps
  • air emissions
  • construction and operational environmental management
  • climate-change adaptation and resilience
  • biosecurity.
EPA will assess whether the proposal will comply with the Environment Protection Act 1970 and relevant SEPPs to protect the environment and public health.

A works approval is a statutory approval issued by EPA. It permits, subject to certain conditions, the construction of a plant (such as an industrial facility), installation of equipment or modification of a process.

Approval is required for industrial and waste management works that may result in any of the following:

  • discharge of waste into the environment (air, water or land)
  • an increase in, or alteration to, an existing discharge
  • a change in the way waste is treated or stored.

Our works approval process is designed to ensure the best and most cost-effective environmental outcomes on projects are achieved. Without works approvals there is an increased risk of industrial projects causing pollution and requiring expensive retrofitting. Works approvals are an opportunity to save energy and water, and to reduce waste at the project design stage, creating value for a business.

Public participation is an important principle of the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the works approval process. Accordingly, we invite the public to comment on works approval applications and some types of licence applications over a set consultation period.

During this consultation period, we may hold public open-house information sessions to explain the works approval process and provide information on the works approval application. We consider all such comments during our assessment of these applications. Applications are also referred to other relevant agencies for their review and advice.

The works approval process is designed to identify any community concerns early on and allow prompt resolution. If comments are received from any third parties, we give applicants an opportunity to address the concerns raised. We may also convene a conference of the parties to assist in resolving those concerns.

We complete our assessment taking into account our own technical appraisals, referral agency responses, public comments received and any applicant responses. We will then decide whether to issue a works approval and whether to attach any conditions to the approval.

The Environment Protection Act requires us to make a decision on works approval applications within four months of receiving a complete application, although we aim to complete our determination in three months. We may request further information from the applicant during the process or require an extension of time to complete the assessment.

If an appeal, by the applicant or affected third parties, is made against a works approval decision and/or any conditions attached to a works approval, the appeal will be heard by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

When a works approval has been issued, the applicant must construct the works in accordance with the approved plans and any conditions (which include a completion date for all works). When the works are complete, the applicant must contact EPA to arrange an inspection of them.

In most cases, a licence will then be required for operation of the works. Where appropriate, we will issue a commissioning approval before the licence, to allow startup and testing of initial operations and to confirm compliance with the works approval.

Further information on works approvals and EPA’s works approval process can be found in EPA works approvals (publication 1523).

A planning permit application has been concurrently submitted to Glenelg Shrie Council and is under consideration.

Additional consents also required include Coastal and Marine Act, Cultural Heritage and Works on Waterways, as well as a building permit.

EPA received 338 submissions from the public and arranged for an independently chaired community conference to be held at Portland Civic Hall on Wednesday, 19 December 2018.

The purpose of the facilitated 20B community conference was:

  • for EPA (and Glenelg Shire Council) to gain a better understanding of community concerns and issues that need to be considered
  • to help explain the works approval and planning permission applications, the assessment process and their current statuses
  • to identify potential resolutions for the application.

Read the agenda, key issues for discussion and presentations given at the conference in the ‘Supporting documents’ section on this page.

Following the conference, the chair will prepare a report that summarises all concerns raised, providing recommendations that EPA must consider in its assessment and identifying potential resolutions for the application. This report will be published on this page.

No final decision regarding the works approval or planning permit applications was made at the conference.

As a joint works approval and planning permit application consultation process is being undertaken by EPA and the council, some consideration of key planning issues was allowed for in the agenda. However, as the community conference sits outside the Planning and Environment Act, the council is not legally obliged to consider any recommendations to the council by the facilitator.

EPA held a community conference on 19 December 2018.

A joint works approval and planning permit application consultation has been undertaken by EPA and the council. Some consideration of key planning issues was given at the conference, and the report contains a number of recommendations for the council to consider. However, as the community conference sits outside the Planning and Environment Act, the council is not legally obliged to consider any recommendations directed to it by the facilitator.

Following a review of the recommendations made in the report, EPA has requested further information from Yumbah Aquaculture. A copy of the formal section 22 notice for further information can be viewed in the 'Supporting documents' section of this page.

You can see the presentations from that evening in the ‘Supporting documents’ section on this page.

EPA issued Yumbah Aquaculture with three separate notices under section 22 of the Environment Protection Act, requiring the company to provide additional information.

You can read the responses to these notices, as well as public submissions made, in the Supporting documents section of this page.