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Extra time given for submissions to the North South Pipeline review.



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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP Shadow Minister for Environment, Heritage and the Arts Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs Federal Liberal Member for Murray

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Extra time given for submissions to the North South Pipeline Review

In a surprise but much appreciated move, the Federal Government has reopened the time for submissions to be made to identify the environmental impacts of the North South Pipeline. These extra submissions will be used in the evaluation of the project under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act.

Federal Member for Murray, Dr Sharman Stone, said the public has been notified of this extension of time very quietly via the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts’ website. There has been no press release or other notification from Minister Peter Garrett’s office.

“It is very important that representatives of our region, including environmental organisations, irrigator representatives, local government and men and women from Northern Victoria, submit additional material before this opportunity closes on the 21 August 2008”, Dr Stone said.

“The website referring to the additional time to lodge submissions includes four examples of submissions already made, which prompted the decision to allow more time for responses. These four submissions stress the fact that the scope of the original inquiry was far too narrow, only considering the route of the pipeline and the flora and fauna directly adjacent to the 70 kilometres or so of the pipeline route.

“No one doubts the significant impact of the pipe on the flora and fauna along the route or the long term impacts of the cleared easement along the pipeline. Besides the destruction of habitat directly, such disturbance and the creation of new corridors through old growth forest means weeds and feral animals have a better chance of establishment. Soil erosion has already proved to be a problem with the poorly-constructed Goldfields Superpipe.

“An even greater concern for northern Victorians, however, is the environmental and social impacts of the removal of environmental flow from Eildon Dam and the decreased volumes in the Goulburn River. This heritage listed river is already ranked the most degraded in the Murray-Darling system.

“There are Ramsar-listed wetlands at the bottom of the Goulburn River, which will see less water from the Goulburn tributary; the Murray Cod and other vulnerable species in the Goulburn will also be impacted. The flora and fauna in and around Sugarloaf Reservoir

will be equally threatened, with the pipeline pumping different quality, volume and temperature water into their ecosystem.

“While the Brumby Labor Government talks endlessly about additional savings to be made as a result of their belated efforts to modernise their irrigation infrastructure, much of these so called savings are to come from changing the water measuring system. This does not

save any water of course; it simply shifts the ownership of that water fro the one ledger to another.

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“As well, absurd volumes of savings have been claimed by the Brumby Labor Government, desperate to have a political solution to their Melbourne Water shortages, but these claims are in excess of what the system can reasonably deliver in dry seasons, and in the climate change scenarios predicted by the CSIRO.

“Even if savings can be significantly increased by plastic lining channels, piping sections and closing down parts of the irrigation system, not a drop of these savings should leave the Murray Darling Basin”, Dr Stone said. “Quite obviously the Murray system is environmentally stressed, and Melbourne and Geelong have other water supply alternatives.

Submissions must be received in the Department by 21 August 2008, and can be made via:

Email: epbc.referrals@environment.gov.au

Fax: 02 6274 1789

Post: Referral Business Entry Point Environmental Assessment Brnach Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts GPO Box 787 CANBERRA ACT 2601

Media Enquiries: Robert Hardie 02 6277 4477 / 0418 432 909