The Victorian state government has begun an open tender process to find environmental auditors for its massive multi-billion-dollar multi-decade 90-kilometre Suburban Rail Loop project.

The orbital railway is one of the largest infrastructure construction projects currently in the pipeline in Australia. Originally announced in August 2018, the train line is proposed to eventually run around the metropolitan area from Werribee in Melbourne’s west to Cheltenham in the south.

To date, the state government has committed $11.8 billion in funding for the first phase of the project, called Suburban Loop East, which will run through twin-bore rail tunnels from Cheltenham to Box Hill, stopping at Clayton, Monash University, Glen Waverley and Burwood.

The project also represents a massive opportunity for consultancy firms that provide environmental assessment work, particularly on major government infrastructure works.

Beyond looking for environmental auditors, the tender also signifies that work is moving ahead on the project. That’s good news for the construction sector, given the state government has said SRL East will cost $30 billion over 14 years, with the entire loop estimated to cost over $100 billion.

The invitation to supply was issued by the Suburban Rail Loop Authority on Monday.

According to tender documents viewed by The Fifth Estate, the auditors will be responsible for making sure that the contractor’s and SRLA’s documentation meets the standards relevant approvals and contract requirements, as well as carrying out site-based audits.

Before work gets underway at each stage of the project, the environmental auditors will review each contractor’s environmental strategy to make sure it meets standards in areas such as managing risk to the environment and human health.

The on-site work will include monthly visits to each active project site to observe activities and undertake interviews, as well as to review documents and records.

There will also be quarterly or annual audits of every contractor to make sure they comply with environmental performance requirements (ERPs) in areas such as greenhouse gas use and sustainability.

Tenders will need to be lodged through the VicTenders website, and firms looking to apply are advised to be familiar with the environmental management framework (EMF) for the project.

Requests for information are open until 14 June, with offers closing on Monday June 20. The initial contract will begin in July 2022 and finish in July 2024, with two options to extend a further three years.

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