Friday, January 9, 2009

Desalination plant environmental restrictions 'too weak'

Posted Fri Jan 9, 2009 8:02pm AEDT

Green groups say the Victorian Government has failed to consider all of the possible environmental impacts of a desalination plant in South Gippsland.

The Government has given its final environmental approval for the project, which still requires federal approval.

Chris Heislers from Watershed Victoria says the Government's environmental assessment did not consider carbon emissions or the impact on whales.

Mr Heislers says the environmental restrictions being placed on the project are too weak.

"Littered throughout the EES, all it says is that we must mitigate and reduce environmental impacts where possible, or where practicable," he said.

"So in effect we are not surprised that this is the result we're at. We where expecting this, because really the EES was drawn up to come to this conclusion."

The Victorian Government says tough environmental restrictions will be placed on the plant.

Planning Minister Justin Madden has given his approval for the project to be built on the coast near Wonthaggi.

Federal approval is still needed.

Mr Madden says an independent auditor will be appointed to make sure the plant's impact on the natural environment is minimised.

"The pipeline needed to transfer water back to Melbourne will cross 100 waterways," he said.

"Individual risk analysis for each crossing will be needed to evaluate the best construction techniques to minimise impacts on stream sedimentation, water quality, erosion and stream side vegetation."

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