North South pipeline threatens protected species

The compliance report on the controversial North South pipeline prepared by the Sugarloaf Pipeline Alliance shows that the known or possible habitats of a number of vulnerable species, including Matted Flax-lily, the Golden Sun Moth, Striped Legless Lizard, and Growling Grass Frog have been compromised during the construction of the pipeline.

MEDIA RELEASE Friends of the Earth
Friday 16 October 2009

North South pipeline threatens protected species

The compliance report on the controversial North South pipeline prepared by the Sugarloaf Pipeline Alliance shows that the known or possible habitats of a number of vulnerable species, including Matted Flax-lily, the Golden Sun Moth, Striped Legless Lizard, and Growling Grass Frog have been compromised during the construction of the pipeline.

In June, Friends of the Earth (FoE) released its report Out of sight, out of mind? An assessment of the ecological impacts of the North South pipeline, which outlined the environmental costs associated with the construction of the pipeline and the potential impacts it will have on the Goulburn River following the completion of the project. At the time, FoE highlighted that a 12 kilometre long, 30 metre wide corridor had been cleared through the Toolangi State Forest to make way for the pipeline. Along this corridor at least four Special Protection Zones (SPZ) had been badly impacted.

While the Federal Government set strict conditions on construction of the pipeline under the Environmental Protection Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, the compliance report which was quietly released in August shows that the proponent admits that there has been a number of instances of non compliance. Non compliance means possible risk to a range of threatened species.

"As one example, there is the well documented instance of top soil being removed from the Goulburn River pump site without regard for the Golden Sun Moth habitat" said Friends of the Earth campaigns co-ordinator, Cam Walker.

"This was a breach of the conditional approval of the pipeline construction, and there were a number of others documented in the compliance report. We do note that the pipeline proponent took action in all instances to remedy the problems. But we would point out that all these impacts are likely to have a cumulative effect on ecosystems which have been badly affected by the pipe laying process. Our report highlighted the fact that despite the good intentions of many individual workers involved in the project, there were a wide range of negative immediate and long term impacts associated with the project.

"What is really tragic is that none of this needed to happen. We continue to believe that Melbourne has many other options to meet it's water needs, without resorting to taking water from the gravely stressed Goulburn River system.

"We call on Minister Garrett  to ensure his department closely monitors future activities by the State Government, with a view to ensuring that the EPBC Act conditions are adhered to".

Further comment: Cam Walker
0419 338 047

The outline of instances of non-compliance can be found on pages 25 to 27 of the following report:
Sugarloaf Pipeline Alliance
Annual Report to DEWHA
Document No. SPA-REP-GL-ENV-0011
August 2009
http://www.sugarloafpipeline.com.au/content/library/system/SLPA_annual_r...

The Friends of the Earth report: Out of sight, out of mind? Can be found here: http://www.foe.org.au/resources/research-papers/water/ecol%20impacts%20o...