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Why don’t bits of molonglo need an EIS?

By johnboy - 29 July 2009 30

The Greens’ Caroline Le Couteur is once again asking tricky questions, this time wanting to know on what basis Andrew Barr, as the planning Minister, decreed that certain parts of the planned new city centre of Molonglo didn’t need to undergo a Environmental Impact Study.

    “We would think that an EIS would help identify the right location for the border of the suburb along the river to minimise impact on wildlife, including the Pink Tailed Worm Lizard, at the rivers edge.”

    “The Minister should be open about the information he’s received and give the assurance that we are not rushing this development at the expense of the natural environment.” Ms Le Couteur said.

UPDATED: My attention has been drawn to Andrew Barr’s recent statement on this issue:

    I am keeping land release in the ACT on-track by exempting development of some of the initial land release areas in the Molonglo Valley from requiring a full environmental impact statement.

    The area for which the exemption applies comprises the south east corner of a larger area known as East Molonglo and includes the suburbs of Wright, Coombs and North Weston.

    This decision is based on advice from the ACT Planning and Land Authority after its full and independent assessment of detailed reports prepared over the past few years.

What’s Your opinion?


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30 Responses to
Why don’t bits of molonglo need an EIS?
Clown Killer 11:55 am 30 Jul 09

You’re still missing the point Ray. The EIS isn’t about whether the project gets approved or rejected. If Rudd told Garrett to reject an EIS then it would have been for political purposes rather than anything in the EIS. The government might try to spin it that way, arguing that their hands were tied etc.

RayP 11:51 am 30 Jul 09

Sorry, I missed that Clown Killer thought he was talking about Australia.

As I recall, one of the first things a newly established EPA did in WA was reject an Alumina Refinery on the basis of an AIS.

And, I think Garrett has recently rejected a project on the basis of an EIS.

RayP 11:47 am 30 Jul 09

Well Clown Killer,

I do think that other regimes at times provide a better guide to reasonable practice and general principles that the ACT.

The history and development of EIS’s has also largely occurred outside the very small ACT regime.

One of the pursposes of EISs is to alert people to issues which may lead to high mitigation costs and concerns from community groups.

Those purposes can be avoided if the process is conducted in house in the ACT bureacracy.

Clown Killer 11:34 am 30 Jul 09

You must be thinking of a jurisdiction outside of Australia RayP.

If projects don’t get up it’s not because of the EIS – likely reasons might be that the proponent isn’t prepared to wear the cost of mitigation or that the regulatory bodies can’t handle the political heat thrown up by self-interest groups. The EIS itself is not about deciding whether or not the proposal should proceed.

RayP 11:14 am 30 Jul 09

Actually, historically, EIS’s were supposed to be about assessing whether projects should proceed.

It just that because projects are generally approved with conditions this gives people the opportunity to slide into the suggestion that they are not about assessing whether a project should proceed.

Even now, from time to time, projects are rejected on the basis of the EIS.

Clown Killer 10:21 am 30 Jul 09

There’s often a misconception in the wider community about the role of an EIS with many believing that the investigations undertaken are about determining whether or not a project should be allowed to proceed.

The reality is that the EIS examines the impacts that will occur when the project goes ahead and the associated environment management plans that are informed by the EIS detail how those impacts will be managed.

There are already a range of important reasons for leaving a fairly wide corridor for the Molonglo River and there’s likely to be ample space for the worm-lizard. A costly EIS would do nothing to improve the situation. Le Couteur knows this (or more likely was told this by someone with nous in the Greens) which really just means that it’s cheap political point-scoring by a party desperate for some relevance.

housebound 10:11 am 30 Jul 09

Good on the Greens for getting onto this. There should be more of it.

Gungahlin Al will probably remember more detail, but one of the scandals with the new planning system was that it gives the Minister a choice about conducting an EIS. This is going to be the first of many examples unless the new Assembly gets its act together and takes a close look at the Act – from memory it’s not a lot of text given to the provision, but I would easily be wrong.

At any rate, why would it even matter if they id do an EIS. The Minister will only call it in, or whatever the equivalent is, anyway.

Clown Killer 10:09 am 30 Jul 09

if you want to attempt cheap shots against Ms Le Couteur

You have a point. It’s not necessary to introduce the worm lizard at all – Le Couteur’s track record of incompetence and mal-administration speaks for itself. Her long history of gross ineptitude as a Commonwealth bureaucrat is no doubt seared into the memories of those unfortunate enough to have worked with her.

Our Legislative Assembly has a hard enough time scratching around for some sort of meaningful relevance without being burdened with the likes of Le Couteur.

Hells_Bells74 10:02 am 30 Jul 09

It’s official in this country, worms and things with no legs and spines are more worth keeping them in their natural habitat than ALL of the aboriginals were. No less shame in Canberra.

Gungahlin Al 9:49 am 30 Jul 09

Of course some die in the wool anti-environment types would fixate on the one non-warm -and-cuddly species mentioned and try to portray it as an anti-Green message.

Perhaps people should focus instead on the key message: why the seemingly increasing propensity towards avoiding EISs? I have been amazed at the almost complete lack of EISs in ACT – other local governments require them on almost all significant developments in new areas. It seems to me that in the ACT where most development being led by the government itself, people are accustomed to seldom seeing EISs happen. Major development happens in grrenfield areas almost unquestioned here. That is not a good thing.

And the current ACT Government’s avoidance of them is akin to not wanting to know the answers. I would guess this has a lot to do with so much of their budget dependent on selling off land, so desperately not wanting to minimise the land yield through those pesky nature reserves…

It is entirely appropriate that Caroline is putting these questions. It seems few others are willing to do so.

Atheistno1 8:21 am 30 Jul 09

Only the human beings are important. Just ask any politician & they will tell you just that. Real estate expansion & homeless issues all tied into one big lie when in fact these issues could have been addressed with the stimulus package being directed to the source, rather than the source of corporate corruption.
To think that the stimulus could have been put to good use by creating a government funded loan division that worked in a similar way to the Rural Bank day’s, where a low interest & repayment scheme that the government runs, would have paid for the outstanding loans to the Bank’s & given the public security, funded the banks with money to re-lend & the majority of public not being reduced to homelessness.
The environment allways comes second to corporate greed & government business brain storms that protect that direct corporate greed.

Pandy 10:58 pm 29 Jul 09

You cannot hug a lizard.

RayP 10:50 pm 29 Jul 09

For those who are concerned about threatened species, rather than displaying their ignorance, the Lower Molonglo River Corridor has been identified as a key habitat for Pink Tailed Legless Lizards for almost two decades and probably more.

So, Pandanus77’s questions:

“And why is it that these animals never ever make get a mention until some form of development is mooted. Do the bloody greens keep a list up their sleeves ready to whip out at the mearest hint of change?”

are basically rubbish.

This information hasn’t been kept up anybody’s sleeve. It’s been documented and out there in the public domain.

Just google “Pink Tailed Worm Lizard” for the Commonwealth Government’s assessment which lists multiple reports going back to 1992.

Pandanus77, if you want to attempt cheap shots against Ms Le Couteur, or perhaps anyone else, you might consider making some effort to avoid looking like a fool.

Felix the Cat 9:38 pm 29 Jul 09

lol! Couldn’t of said it beter myself, Pandanus77!

Pandanus77 8:31 pm 29 Jul 09

Jesus bloody well wept, Pink Tailed Worm Lizard!!!! What is it with Canberra that all the diasbled reptiles live here…..Blind snake, earless dragon, legless lizard and now the pink tailed worm lizard. We all remember the debacle that resulted in the relocation of the Gungahln town centre because of one the aforementioned disabled reptiles. And why is it that these animals never ever make get a mention until some form of development is mooted. Do the bloody greens keep a list up their sleeves ready to whip out at the mearest hint of change?

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