23 July 2020

Unexploded ordnance search starts at Majura environmental offset site

| Dominic Giannini
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Aerial view of Majura Parkway and surrounding rural land.

Majura Parkway, which separates West Majura Grasslands and the Australian Defence Force’s Majura Training Area. Photo: Glynis Quinlan.

A search for unexploded ordnance on approximately 90 hectares of land across West Majura Grasslands has begun ahead of the area’s planned transition into an environmental offset site.

The grasslands are opposite the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) Majura Training Area (MTA) which includes a grenade range, multiple shooting ranges and artillery ranges. Aerial bombing and strafing – aerial attacks from low flying aircraft – also take place at the MTA.

ACT Minister for the Environment and Heritage Mick Gentleman said the ACT Government is undertaking research to determine if Majura Grasslands can be added to Canberra Nature Park as an environmental offset.

Under the ACT Government’s environmental policy, offsets ensure the loss of ecological communities and habitats in one area is balanced by ecological development elsewhere.

Mount Majura pictured in the 1910s.

Mount Majura pictured sometime in the 1910s. The army base was established in the area in 1911. Photo: National Archives of Australia.

“The ACT Government uses environmental offsets to compensate for the impact that developments around Canberra have on native plants and animals,” said Mr Gentleman.

“They offset unavoidable environmental impacts on one site by securing and managing land at another site.

“A decision on making Majura Grasslands an environmental offset is not expected in the next 12 months and will include consultation with the community.”

The $140,000 contract that was awarded to Mil-Search to conduct a geophysical survey of the grasslands and then provide a comprehensive report to ACT Parks and Conservation Service (PCS) has a completion date of 30 November.

However, the contract can be extended to a maximum of 15 months, meaning the final decision may not be announced until the end of next year.

ACT Minister for the Environment and Heritage Mick Gentleman.

ACT Minister for the Environment and Heritage Mick Gentleman says a decision on making Majura Grasslands an environmental offset is not expected to be made during the next 12 months. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

The contract includes advising on any remediation plans and costs associated for PCS to receive a clearance certificate, which would then allow PCS to undertake land management activities up to a depth of one metre.

“We are committed to preserving what you love about the bush capital through nature reserves and environmental offsets that give our threatened species a protected environment to live in,” said Mr Gentleman.

“In the meantime, our excellent rangers are managing the site to protect vulnerable species such as the striped legless lizard, critically endangered golden sun moth, and the critically endangered natural temperate grassland community.”

Other environmental offers nearby include the likes of Justice Robert Hope Park ( the Watson Woodlands), an 18 hectare site at the western base of Mount Majura; the 36.9 hectare Isaacs Ridge site, offsetting the Mugga Lane tip expansion and the Pinnacle Nature Reserve at Hawker, offsetting the impact on grassy woodland and grassland from the University of Canberra Public Hospital development.

More information about the ACT Government’s environmental offsets program can be found here.

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Capital Retro11:43 am 25 Jul 20

Will this area be generally accessible to the public after it is cleaned up?

The ACT has lots of places suitable for bushwalking.

It is good to know that it is now possible to properly clear a former firing range for that purpose.

Having held a blind’s clearance certificate I’m delighted, really!

Dealing with stuff that should have gone off, but hasn’t yet, is a memorable activity.

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