14/03/2011 - 10:48

EPA approves Oakajee proposals

14/03/2011 - 10:48

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The Environmental Protection Authority has given its conditional approval to two major infrastructure proposals for the Oakajee deepwater port project.

EPA approves Oakajee proposals

The Environmental Protection Authority has given its conditional approval to two major infrastructure proposals for the Oakajee deepwater port project.

EPA chairman Paul Vogel said Oakjee Port & Rail's proposals to construct and operate iron ore handling storage facilities and operate a 45 million tonne export facility at Oakajee, and to construct a 570 kilometre rail line from the port to the Jack Hills mine could meet the EPA's objectives, provided recommended conditions are implemented.

"Both of these proposals demonstrated the value of impact assessment: high quality environmental information from the proponent and a shared understanding of project and assessment timeframes," Dr Vogel said.

Conditions for the port's approval include the purchase of land parcels for conservation and the funding of research projects into threatened fauna, to offset the loss of native vegetation and habitat.

Dr Vogel said discharges from the Oakajee desalination plant were unlikely to have a significant impact on water quality.

"Modelling undertaken so far for dust emissions show that the likelihood of impacts outside the established Oakajee Industrial Estate is low and can be regulated through the licensing provisions of the Environmental Protection Act with best practice management measures required to be adopted before approval to operate is granted," he said.

Conditions for the rail approval include submitting maps of locations of key conservation assets prior to construction, and offsets have been agreed to for impacts to Carnaby's Cockatoo, Malleefowl and Western Spiny-tailed skink's habitats.

The operation of the rail is also required not to exceed specified noise criteria.

"The construction and operation of the railway must ensure that surface water diversion, erosion and sedimentation do not cause the loss of, or adverse impacts to, significant vegetation beyond 50 metres either side of the railway centreline," Dr Vogel said.

"Apart from two constrained areas there is to be no ground disturbance within 50 metres of Western Spiny-tailed Skink habitat or Malleefowl mounds with all construction areas to be inspected prior to disturbance.'

"There is also to be a plan formulated to protect the conservation values of the proposed Woolgorong, Twin Peaks and Narloo Conservation Parks from the ongoing impacts of the proposal.

"This approach will provide long term environmental benefits through the protection and management of high quality remnant native vegetation in the region."

 

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