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Final terms of reference for barrage EIS.



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

PG/227 13 March 2009

FINAL TERMS OF REFERENCE FOR BARRAGE EIS

Environment Minister Peter Garrett today released the final terms of reference for the environmental assessment of a proposal by the South Australian Government to open the barrages to allow sea water into Lake Alexandrina, should this be required as a last resort to prevent acidification.

Mr Garrett said the finalisation of the guidelines followed a period of public consultation and would now enable South Australia to commence the preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

“These guidelines will ensure the assessment is thorough and comprehensive. The public and I will be fully informed, not only of the potential impacts of the proposal, but of any feasible alternatives to taking this action,” Mr Garrett said.

“I know that there is significant community concern about the challenges faced in the Coorong and Lower Lakes. The South Australian Government is required to fully investigate the environmental impacts of its proposal and to seek public input on the EIS before it comes to me for consideration.

“I would like to thank the people that made the effort to contribute comments that assisted in the finalising of these guidelines.”

Mr Garrett said in addition to work proceeding quickly on the barrages EIS it was essential that South Australia develop a long-term vision for the area so that it can be managed for the future in a coordinated and holistic way. To this end the Australian Government has committed $200 million from its Water for the Future plan to assist South Australia in this long term planning process.

“Earlier this week the Rudd Government signed over an initial $10 million to South Australia to assist the South Australian Government towards the development of a long-term plan for the Coorong and Lower Lakes.

“This is an important and necessary step which I hope can proceed quickly,” Mr Garrett said.

The South Australian Government will be required to release the resulting EIS for public comment for no less than 20 business days once they have it prepared.

The final EIS guidelines can be found at http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/notices/assessments/lower-lakes.html

Media contact: Ben Pratt 0419 968 734