With the Victorian Minister for Planning having approved the final scoping requirements for the Environment Effects Statement (EES) on the Fingerboards Mineral Sands project, State MP, Tim Bull, said it was important for the community to remain engaged in the process.
“What I found disappointing was a number of changes submitted by the proponent shortly before the scoping requirements were finalised. Submissions previously lodged were based on detail that changed at the death knock," he said.
“I raised this with both with the proponent and Minister’s office and requested more time for new or altered submissions as I believed this to be a fairer outcome for the community.
“The Minister’s office advised it had reviewed the new information and deemed the scoping requirements remained relevant, also pointing out the public will still have opportunities to provide submissions and comments during the process.”
Mr Bull originally wrote to the Minister requesting an EES on the proposal and is open to an independent review of the process when finalised.
“The reality is this is a greenfield site in proximity to the Mitchell River and an existing vital industry, so it requires rigorous assessment.”
Mr Bull said further to this he has met with several agencies who are on the EES Technical Reference Group (TRG) over recent weeks to raise matters that he wished wish to have closely scrutinised as part of the EES.
“This will be a long process and I want to see it completed. It is important that at the various stages that allow for community input, that it occurs.”
He pointed out that although the EES was an important stage in the process, it was important the community understood it was not part of the permitting/approval stage.
The permitting process follows the EES and falls across various agencies and departments, including the Federal Environment Protection Biodiversity and Conservation (EPBC) Act, VicRoads, Aboriginal Victoria, Environment Protection Agency, Catchment Management Authority, Southern Rural Water, DELWP and East Gippsland Shire to name a few.
The proposal must get sign off from all these to be able to proceed and it is in this permitting stage that the various agencies need to be satisfied. The EES, if accepted, is only one tool to inform statutory decision-makers responsible for the project’s approvals, but the final decision sits with these various agencies.
Wednesday, March 21, 2018