Planning Minister Justin Madden has ruled that an Environment Effects Statement (EES) will not be required for Section-1 of RRL, subject to conditions requiring the completion of a comprehensive Environmental Management Plan and a noise impact assessment report.
“Section 1 of the Regional Rail Link project– from Moonee Ponds Creek, West Melbourne to Deer Park - is in an urban area along side existing rail infrastructure,” Mr Madden said. “I have evaluated the need for an EES for the project against the Ministerial Guidelines for Assessment of Environmental Effects under the Environmental Effects Act 1978 and concluded that, subject to the stated conditions, the proposed works are unlikely to have significant environmental effects.”
Mr Madden said the Regional Rail Link Authority will be required to prepare a comprehensive Environmental Management Plan at least three months prior to the commencement of works. “The Environmental Management Plan will need to address effects on non-indigenous cultural heritage, traffic disruption, habitat protection, and offsetting and management of vegetation, including the Sunshine Diuris orchid. “The Regional Rail Link Authority must also prepare a noise impact assessment report in consultation with the Environmental Protection Authority. The report is to provide a robust analysis of likely noise in the area together with an evaluation of feasible mitigation measures. “The noise impact management report needs to be completed to my satisfaction within four months. Prior to finalisation of the report it will be subject to peer review.”
Affected residents welcome the imposition of conditions regarding noise impact and the requirement for a comprehensive environment management plan.
We are disappointed, however, that the Minister appears to excluded any mention of RRL's likely social impacts - the issue that rated highest on residents' list of concerns and the subject of a huge number of subissions and letters throughout the RRL planning process. Unless, of course, Mr Madden intends that these issues be covered under the umbrella of 'non-indigenous cultural heritage'? Again, Footscray residents appear to rank lower than flora and fauna in the eyes of the Government.
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