ARTC to repair environmental damage

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) will have to repair environmental damage caused by unauthorised works at the Deep Lead Nature Conservation Reserve in Western Victoria.

An investigation by the federal environment department found ARTC's actions resulted in the clearing of a population of the critically endangered spiny rice-flower and part of an endangered grey box grassy woodlands and derived native grasslands of south-eastern Australia ecological community protected under national environmental law.

The works took place during the 2010 Western Victoria Track Upgrade Project. ARTC proceeded with the work without federal environment approval for their actions.

"The spiny rice-flower is native to western Victoria and has been historically threatened and depleted by land clearance for settlement, industry and agriculture," departmental spokeswoman Rose Webb said.

"In this case, there was a significant impact to one of the 20 remaining wild populations.

"An enforceable undertaking is a good alternative to a lengthy adversarial court proceeding," Ms Webb said.

"It requires ARTC to spend $207,000 on a number of activities to achieve desired positive environmental outcomes. This includes $24,000 for rehabilitation of the affected area, $44,000 for developing and providing training for ARTC staff and contractors and $130,000 for a study to identify matters of national environment significance along the Melbourne to Adelaide rail corridor.

"While it's unfortunate that these threatened woodlands and grasslands were damaged, expert advice is that effective rehabilitation will enable the site to recover, and it is good news that this money will contribute to our knowledge of matters of national environmental significance along the rail corridor.

"This outcome shows the importance of getting federal government approval before starting any activities that could have an effect on nationally protected matters, such as grasslands and woodlands."