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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

Victorian desalination plant approved with conditions

Media release
20 March 2009
PG/229

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Environment Minister Peter Garrett today said he had given conditional approval to the Victorian Government's proposed desalination plant near Wonthaggi.

Under the national environment law the Minister was required to assess the potential impacts of the project on the Western Port Ramsar wetland and listed threatened species and ecological communities protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

"This proposal has been thoroughly assessed through a rigorous and open process looking at both those matters which are the responsibility of the State Government and those that are my responsibility to protect under the national environment law.

"This assessment and approval process has allowed input from interested groups, experts and members of the general public. I want to take this opportunity to thank those who have contributed throughout this process," he said.

"I am fully satisfied that with the conditions I have imposed on this approval - including a requirement that the Victorian Government develop management strategies to minimise the impacts on species like the Growling Grass Frog, Dwarf Galaxias, Giant Gippsland Earthworm and Orange-bellied Parrot - this project will not have a significant impact on nationally protected matters," Mr Garrett said.

"I will need to approve these strategies before construction can commence on the project. My conditional approval strengthens the recommendations of the Victorian assessment."

The desalination plant to be located in the Wonthaggi region will supply up to 150 billion litres of water a year to Melbourne and the surrounding region.

As part of a forward approach for managing Australia's urban water resources, the Australian Government is implementing a $1 billion National Urban Water and Desalination Plan to help secure the water supplies of Australia's major cities.

Information on this approval and its conditions can be found at http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/notices/index.html.

Commonwealth of Australia