The Victorian Greens have welcomed the newly launched Supreme Court challenge to the North East Link, saying it highlights Victoria’s broken environmental effects process for major infrastructure projects.
Despite both a 2011 parliamentary inquiry and a 2017 Auditor General’s report recommending a strengthening of the Environment Effects Statement (EES) process, Victoria’s Environmental Effects Act remains weak and unable to effectively protect Victoria’s environment.
Problems with the Environmental Effects Act include:
- A lack of detail in the Act
- A lack of certainty about when an EES in required and the level of detail involved in its preparation
- It does not necessarily contribute to good environmental outcomes
- The non-binding nature of the Minister’s recommendations
Victorian Greens spokesperson for transport, Sam Hibbins, has called on the Government to overhaul the EES process to strengthen protections for Victoria’s environment and give local communities more certainty.
Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens spokesperson for transport, Sam Hibbins MP:
“The current Environmental Effects Statement laws in Victoria are an effective rubber stamp that permit wholesale environmental destruction.
“The Victorian Government has deliberately kept these laws weak to ram through the approval of a mega toll road that will destroy precious threatened species habitat and put a hundred thousand more cars on the road.
“The planning Minister’s decision to approve the North East Link based on reference design and to ignore key recommendations from the independent panel shows that the process has no teeth and is unable to effectively protect Victoria’s environment.
“Unless there is a complete overhaul of environmental laws covering major infrastructure projects, Victoria’s natural environment will die a death of a thousand cuts.”