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Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

13 September 2002

Basslink


The Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp has given environmental clearance, subject to conditions, to the proposed Basslink electricity interconnector project.

The Basslink proposal spans three administrative jurisdictions, requiring separate planning, environmental and other approvals from the three governments: Victoria (activities based on land and in territorial waters), Tasmania (activities based on land and territorial waters) and Commonwealth (Commonwealth marine waters in Bass Strait).

As part of the environmental impact assessment for the project, significant debate occurred about the merits of undergrounding the electricity transmission lines for the entire Victorian section of the proposal. Issues in relation to terrestrial siting are matters for the state government to determine.

Commonwealth approval is required from the Minister for the Environment and Heritage under the Sea Installations Act 1987 and from the Assistant Treasurer under the Foreign Investment Policy.

"All of the evidence before me confirms that as long as the proposed monitoring and management arrangements are implemented the Basslink project will not have an adverse impact on the environment," Dr Kemp said.

Dr Kemp said the decision was taken after a rigorous Commonwealth environmental assessment of the project under the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974 and the development of a number of recommendations as part of the Joint Assessment Panel report and recommendations made by Environment Australia.

"As the Action Minister under the Sea Installations Act 1987 I have placed a number of conditions on this approval such as the High Voltage Direct Current cable laid as part of the project must comprise monopole cable and metallic return cable and these different cables must be bundled.

"As a result of the change to the metallic return, predicted operating impact of the marine interconnector cable on migrating whales and other marine species is likely to be very small to almost negligible.

"Basslink Pty Ltd will also be required to prepare and submit a Final Route Alignment Plan, a Strategic Environmental Management Plan for Commonwealth Waters and a Code of Conduct for Commercial Fishing Activities before site preparation and laying of cable commences," Dr Kemp said.

The Commonwealth has endorsed all conditions of both state government decisions.

Further information on the assessment process is available on the Environment Australia web site at http://www.ea.gov.au/assessments/epip/notifications/basslink

Media Contact:
Devena Wahlstrom 02 6277 7640 or 0412 257 334

Commonwealth of Australia