Pipeline threatens endangered species and our struggling rivers, report says

The controversial north-south pipeline will have a devastating impact on the environment both now and in the future, a report released today by Friends of the Earth  (FoE) has revealed.

24 June, 2009
MEDIA RELEASE


Pipeline threatens endangered species and our struggling rivers, report says

The controversial north-south pipeline will have a devastating impact on the environment both now and in the future, a report released today by Friends of the Earth  (FoE) has revealed.

The report, Out of sight, out of mind? An assessment of the ecological impacts of the North South pipeline,  outlines the environmental costs associated with the current construction of the pipeline and the potential impact it will have on the Goulburn River following the completion of the project.

FoE’s campaigns coordinator Cam Walker said the report showed the construction of the pipeline, together with the February 2009 bushfires and logging operations, was having a significant impact on the Toolangi State Forest and the endangered species that live in the area.

“A 12 kilometre long, 30 metre wide corridor has been cleared through the Toolangi State Forest to make way for the pipeline. Along this corridor at least four Special Protection Zones (SPZ)  have been badly impacted by the pipe operations,” he said.

“SPZs are established by the government to ensure  threatened and sensitive flora and fauna species in the area are not disturbed, logging is also prohibited in these areas. Yet the pipeline project has damaged a number of SPZ, one of which was established to protect the endangered Leadbeater’s Possum, our faunal emblem.”

Mr Walker said the report also looked at the wider implications of the project, including its greenhouse gas impacts and the effect it would have on the Goulburn River system.

“The Brumby Government’s plan is for the pipeline to be able to transport 75 gigalitres of water each year from the Goulburn River system to be used in Melbourne's water supplies. This water will apparently be made available from savings created through the Foodbowl Modernisation Project,” he said.

“However, the Goulburn River is already under extreme stress and was found, by the Murray-Darling Basin Commission’s Sustainable Rivers Audit in 2008, to have the poorest health of any of the 23 rivers in the Murray-Darling Basin.  Given the dire condition of the river, it should get the 'first drink' from any water savings to ensure its survival.

“Our report also shows the government has not considered the impacts of climate change and the 2009 bushfires on the river’s water supply. Thus there is a chance the water savings expected to be made through the Food Bowl Modernisation Program will actually never materialise or will be greatly reduced.

“Due to the uncertainty of the pipeline’s ability to deliver the promised water and the negative impact it is already having on the environment, this report argues that the construction of the pipeline should be stopped until further environmental assessments have taken place.”

Out of sight, out of mind? has been collated using information from various reports created by or for the pipeline proponent, from submissions made by experts and community groups about the pipeline, and from a number of visits made by FoE to the pipeline construction sites between December 2008 and June 2009.

For further comment please contact Cam Walker on 0419 338 047.

The report can be downloaded from here.


1    Many of these are available at: http://www.sugarloafpipeline.com.au/