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Basslink campaigners attend Environment Assessment Workshop

Yesterday afternoon (Wed 5th June) Basslink campaigners attended the Environment Assessment Review Workshop in Traralgon

By Madelon Lane - 4th June 2002 - Back to News

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Yesterday afternoon (Wed 5th June) Basslink campaigners attended the Environment Assessment Review Workshop in Traralgon. Rebecca Hoare, a Senior Solicitor with the Environment Defenders Office explained the current Victorian Environment Assessment process. We then examined the Department of Infrastructure's proposed reform scenarios.

The Basslink Project has been dogged with problems, both with the Project itself, and most recently in the failure of the Joint Advisory Panel process. We discussed the need for consultants employed by proponents to disclose their previous work in the area and industry so that any bias can be openly evaluated. Accreditation of consultants to professional "peer group" associations was seen as one way to keep supporting studies up to acceptable scientific standards.

The shortcomings of the Basslink Integrated Impact Assessment Statement include the lack of Environmental Effects Studies for large parts of the new JAP-preferred route from Merrimans Creek Valley to McGaurans Beach. The failure of the Basslink Main Project Report to list and name all Supporting Studies was seen as a major breach that must be avoided in future Reports to Government. Basslink campaigners do not support the idea of phasing out Consultative Committees in future. The Basslink Community Consultative Committee was often adversarial but well chaired by a staff member of the Department of Infrastructure. In the early days of the proposed Basslink Project in Gippsland, the Consultative Committee was one of the only avenues for the public to tease out Project details.

If a four tier Planning scenario is adopted, as put up in the Issues and Options Paper, it will be absolutely critical that Projects are honestly and correctly ranked at the screening phase. There would need to be better checklists of environmental investigations to be conducted to avoid the glaring inadequacies of the Basslink scientific studies. The public must not be locked out of any level of preparation of Planning Reports. Basslink campaigners will be making submissions to the Environment Assessment Review to ensure that the lessons learnt from Basslink are used to achieve better quality Planning Reports and Panel Assessments in coming years.

It is not too late for Mary Delahunty, Planning Minister, to insist on proper Environmental Effects information to be furnished to her before she makes any decision on the Basslink Project.


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