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12 September 2008
A key component of Victoria's water plan has received conditional environmental approval from the Federal Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, under the Environment Protection and Conservation Biodiversity Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
Mr Garrett said in making his decision he had carefully considered the environmental impacts of the project proposed by the Victorian Government on matters protected by the EPBC Act.
"Nationally listed threatened species such as the striped legless lizard and the matted flax lily may potentially be affected by the pipeline. My approval includes a number of precautionary conditions which will ensure that any impacts on nationally listed species are mitigated," Mr Garrett said.
"My responsibility under the Act is to make decisions about possible impacts on matters of national environmental significance as defined by the Act. Other environmental matters raised by this development are the responsibility of the Victorian Government.
"Based on the information and advice I have received, I am confident that this pipeline can be built without adversely affecting nationally listed threatened species.
"Securing water supply for our urban populations is of fundamental importance. The Victorian Government put this proposal forward on the basis that the water would be sourced primarily from savings from the Foodbowl Modernisation Project which will also go to irrigators and importantly, the environment.
"I have made it a condition of my approval that all savings to be taken for the pipeline could only be taken following the assessment of their potential impact on matters of national environmental significance. These savings must be audited and available before they can be sent down the pipeline."
Mr Garrett said during the approval process the Department of Environment, Heritage, Water and the Arts had received a number of requests to reconsider the original decision to examine only the impacts on listed threatened species and ecological communities.
A decision to reject those applications for reconsideration was made after consultation with State and Federal ministers as well as the public who were invited to provide comment. Conditions of approval for this project include that no water come from the Living Murray initiative or the Water for Rivers entitlements.