11 March – Day Six

Tuesday 11 March 

Top four points from Day Six:

1. The surface water in Moonee Ponds Creek is already poor quality and won’t be worsened by the EWL.

2. Only 112 trees in the project boundary fulfil the LMA’s criteria of native trees, and the LMA argues no permit is required to remove them.

3. The wetlands and skink habitats will be heavily impacted and the LMA opts for off-setting and ‘minimising’, not avoidance.

4. The LMA considers heritage impacts to be bad for locals, but not of any state significance.  Photos of the buildings will suffice as archival records of heritage lost.

5pm update

Pictures will tell a thousand words about lost heritage buildings in Bendigo street.  

The requirement to take photo records of all heritage buildings, streetscapes or places disturbed by the project was discussed when Peter Lovell gave his expert statements on heritage this afternoon.

Lovell noted that the impacts are clearly rotten for locals, but they are not significant to the state. A photographic record will suffice.

The prominent Shot Tower in Alexandra Parade is vulnerable to vibration, but it is outside the project boundary and these things can be managed, we are told.

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 4.50.04 PM

With respect to Royal Park, Lovell’s view is that the “series of spaces and rooms” in the park will mean the park is not “fatally affected” by the project.

Although, when asked by Wren whether avoiding any damage to Royal Park and Bendigo St would be preferable, Lovell agreed.

Perhaps rather crucially, when Wren asked if Lovell had made recommendations to LMA to explore alternative options to minimise the project’s heritage impacts, as required by the scoping directions, Lovell said he had not.  He responded to the project as presented and was not asked by LMA to make revisions.

3pm update

There are a number of key issues being discussed today:

1)     The extent of native vegetation and fauna that will be disrupted, and lost, as a result of the project;

2)     Minimise or avoid: which of these should be the goal?

3)     Whether the LMA needs a permit to remove the native vegetation from Royal Park, or whether it can be granted an exemption.

On the first point, there is disagreement about what constitutes ‘native’ (or conservation) vegetation and what the LMA expert, Lane, terms ‘amenity planting’ (plants arranged as screens or in ‘clumps’).

Counsel for the City of Melbourne, Ian Pitt, argues that Lane has substantially undercounted the native vegetation that has been planted and therefore has underestimated amount of vegetation impacted.

Pitt also asked Lane if he thought the white skink colony could survive the ‘temporary’ (3-5yrs) construction impacts.  Lane responded that most habitat would be removed and unlikely to survive.

On the second point, the experts refer repeatedly to the ways in which impacts can be minimised.  Counsel for Moonee Valley Council asked very directly: in the avoid, minimise, off-set hierarchy, why do you go straight to minimise?

The third point is complicated…. But we will get to it ASAP.

Sorry for the lack of pictures today.  We are not permitted to take photos in the hearings.  If you have photos you would like included, please forward to roseiser@gmail.com

But talking pictures, there is a wonderful photography exhibition just around the corner from the hearings:

The Last Summer Project is a series of large format photographs made of Royal Park in the summer of 2013 – 2014.  You can check out The Last Summer Project at fortyfivedownstairs gallery in Melbourne 11 – 22 March 2014.

/0/”>Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 3.20.34 PM

 12:45pm update

6.177 hectares of native vegetation and 112 scattered native trees will be removed by the proposed EWL according to LMA expert Brett Lane.

But “this is not considered significant at a state level” and “it is likely that complete replacement of planted vegetation would be possible over time in remaining parts of Royal Park”, he said.

“I don’t consider it to be significant,” he said. “The balance of vegetation remaining in Royal Park will continue to support biodiversity.”

Lane’s study concluded the project was not likely to have impact on threatened species under federal or state legislation.

Areas of planted native trees and non-indigenous trees will also be removed as a result of the project.

Lane said he supported the “reasonable requirement” that this vegetation be reinstated and that that it has already adapted to highly modified environment”

He did propose strengthening the meaning of the term “minimisation” in the performance requirements for the wetlands affected by the project including Trin Warren Tam-boore.

In reaching his conclusions, Lane distinguished between ‘amenity planting’ and  ‘conservation planting’ on the basis of what types of trees were planted and whether they were arranged for screening or another amenity purpose.

12pm

A slow, watery start to the week.

Surface water impact assessment is the topic de jour.  Gavin Hay is LMA’s expert (his report is here).

Hay’s presentation begins with a slide of filmy water in the Moonee Ponds Creek under CityLink – probably demonstrating the starting point against which future impacts will be measured.

The concrete creek is a low starting point indeed.

Hay believes there will be a beneficial outcome based on the performance requirements 16 performance requirements for surface water (SW).  We heard last week the view that it would be hard to make the ‘concrete creek’ any worse.

The various amendments to the performance requirements put forward by Hay mostly reflect tighter, less ambiguous wording, rather than substantive changes. Hay concedes that performance requirements are only aspirational.

Most interestingly this morning, Hay’s report refers to the EPA recommending “demonstration of compliance with the SEPP (Waters of Victoria) and relevant best practice requirements” (see below).

However, in Hay’s evidence, he said the EPA later suggested removing the reference to the State Environment Protection Policies.

The EPA needs to be questioned about their change of opinion.

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 11.54.01 AM

Article on East West Link in today’s Age:

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 11.57.46 AM

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