Environmental approval for Perth-to-Mandurah railway
The Perth-to-Mandurah Railway has been given the 'green' light after one of the most rigorous environmental reviews ever undertaken in Western Australia.
Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan welcomed today's formal approval by Environment Minister Judy Edwards.
"Environmental approval for the railway means all construction contracts can proceed on schedule with contractors having clear knowledge about their environmental commitments," Ms MacTiernan said.
The Minister said the Public Environmental Review (PER) approval had been provided, subject to the preparation and implementation of 12 management plans.
"Nearly 10 years ago, environmental considerations for a future Perth-to-Mandurah Railway started, following amendments to the Metropolitan Region Scheme to include a Rapid Transit Corridor," she said.
"However, the PER process really began in earnest in September 2001 after the Gallop Government adopted the fast, direct route.
"Since then, about $1.5million has been spent on environmental planning with the majority of work being carried out by a range of experts.
"These have included engineers, environmental scientists, botanists, zoologists, hydrologists, Aboriginal heritage consultants, community consultation representatives, noise and vibration specialists and many others."
Ms MacTiernan said the seriousness of the work was demonstrated by the fact that in situations where environmental aspects were priorities, the scope of the project had been changed.
"For example, an endangered group of vegetation types was identified at the proposed Waikiki station site," she said.
"As a result, the station was redesigned to preserve nearly one hectare of the best quality of that vegetation and the New MetroRail team has committed to prepare a management plan to make sure the area is properly maintained."
Highlights of the environmental process along the Perth-to-Mandurah route include identifying 231 species of flora, including pockets of vegetation where endangered species flower each spring.
A total of 26 types of mammals, 146 types of birds, nine types of frogs, and five types of freshwater fish have also been identified, with the total including a variety of fauna of conservation significance.
Ms MacTiernan said special measures were being taken to make sure significant fauna and flora would be protected.
"Night surveys have been held to find out whether the priority fauna listed southern race of the masked owl is nesting along the route," she said.
"New MetroRail wants to establish whether the owls are breeding in areas that may be cleared and if so, establish suitable conservation plans.
"In another move, NMR has proposed that fauna 'underpasses' be provided in particular areas of significant fauna movements like Leda Nature Reserve and sections within Rockingham Lakes Regional Park."
Ms MacTiernan said the PER had also identified that 315kg of seeds and 427,000 seedlings would be required to re-landscape the whole alignment.
"Seed collectors have been collecting seed from up to 100 different local species," she said.
"The seeds, which can be stored for up to five years, will be planted close to their original locations once the railway is nearing completion."
The 12 management plans which the New MetroRail team has agreed to develop and implement are the:
- Construction Management Plan;
- Stakeholder Consultation Strategy;
- Biodiversity and Wetland Mitigation Plan;
- Environmental Management Plan for Waikiki Station;
- Visual Amenity, Rehabilitation and Landscape Management Plan;
- Fauna Management Plan;
- Wetlands, Hydrology and Drainage Management Plan;
- Noise and Vibration Management Plan;
- Bushland Management Plan;
- Contamination Assessment and Management Plan;
- Vegetation Management Plan for Unexploded Ordnance Search Areas; and
- Sustainability Strategy Plan.
NMR has also committed to completing spring surveys for targeted flora and fauna species to assess impacts from the railway and identify measures to minimise them. It is also bound to transfer a number of areas of surplus land purchased for the railway to the conservation estate.
Other areas under the spotlight include:
- Aboriginal heritage - Extensive consultation has been carried out with Aboriginal groups since 1994;
- European heritage - the Narrows Bridge, Horseshoe Bridge and a number of buildings in the CBD have been identified as having heritage value;
- public consultation - extensive consultation has been conducted with Government agencies, local governments, non-Government organisations, Aboriginal groups, NMR's Environmental Community Consultative Committee, residents likely to be affected by the project and others. About 25 groups have been involved in more than 100 meetings;
- soil and groundwater - detailed geotechnical and hydrological investigations have been carried out; and
- noise and vibration modelling has been carried out for the entire alignment with a proposal to erect noise walls to minimise noise impacts near Leach Highway, South Street and in the Rockingham area.
Ms MacTiernan said the various management plans and other commitments needed to be implemented and construction contractors would need to be audited to ensure they were complying with requirements.
"Final approval does not mean that the job is finished - rather that the real environmental work on the Perth-to-Mandurah Railway is just beginning, "she said.
"Consultation with stakeholders will continue through the life of the project."
Further information on the New MetroRail project is available at http:www.newmetrorail.wa.gov.au or by calling 1800 110 075 (freecall).