Commonwealth approvals (EPBC)

Federal approval for the North East Link Project was assessed by the Australian Government under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

The EPBC Act is the Australian Government’s central piece of environmental legislation. It provides a legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities and heritage places.

The North East Link Project prepared and submitted a Public Environment Report (PER) to the Minister for the Environment to inform approval under the EPBC Act.

The Federal Minister for the Environment approved the project on 13 December 2019.

The approval includes strict conditions to manage and report on outcomes for matters of national environmental significance and the environment on Commonwealth land. These include outcomes for the Matted Flax-lily and Studley Park Gum Trees as well as the removal of native vegetation from Commonwealth land at Simpson Barracks.

On 28 August 2020 the Federal Minister for the Environment updated the conditions so they included the construction of some additional replacement facilities for the Department of Defence and Simpson Barracks.

You can view the EPBC approval and the conditions that apply on the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website here. The referral number is 2018/8142

Construction of the North East Link project is expected to require the removal of up to 105 Matted Flax-lily plants. 93 of these are expected to be removed from land at Simpson Barracks.

Impacts will be managed through a salvage and translocation plan. This will involve harvesting, dividing and propagating, and then planting in a suitable location.

We’re planning to harvest and grow multiple ramets (clones) from each plant/patch so we can plant more than are removed, and to use multiple sites for planting – making an overall increase in the population in the local area likely. The translocation of Matted Flax-lilies has been successful for other major projects in the local area including the South Morang Rail Extension Project and Melbourne Wholesale Markets.

To view the Matted Flax-lily Salvage and Translocation Plan click here, PDF, 5.3 MB.

The Studley Park Gum is a local hybrid of the River Red Gum and Swamp Gum. It is not a federally listed species, but is significant for the state of Victoria. The trees are included in the Commonwealth approval for the project because they are found on Commonwealth land at Simpson Barracks.

We’re committed to the survival of this unique Victorian hybrid tree. As part of preparing the PER specialists conducted a comprehensive study into the distribution of the Studley Park Gum, helping us to know more about this tree than ever before. We’ll also be implementing a Studley Park Gum Management Framework – the first of its kind for the tree.

Seeds from some of the 50 Studley Park Gums expected to be affected by construction will be collected so a new population can be established. Each of the 50 trees expected to be removed will be replaced by two. To ensure the 2:1 replacement goal will be met, more than 300 saplings will be planted and carefully monitored for up to ten years.

To view the Studley Park Gum Management Framework click here PDF, PDF, 1.4 MB .

Under the reference design for North East Link, around 11.8 hectares of native vegetation would need to be cleared from Commonwealth land at Simpson Barracks. We’ll challenge the project builders to reduce this further during detailed design.

Conditions set by the Federal Minister for the Environment require us to have offsets for the amount of native vegetation that will be cleared in place before construction starts at Simpson Barracks. NELP will need to provide the Commonwealth Government with evidence the offset has been established and that it meets Victorian Government Guidelines.

In addition to the offset program required by the Commonwealth Government, NELP is delivering one of the largest tree planting programs for a major transport project in Victoria. More than 30,000 trees will be planted along and near North East Link achieving  a net gain in tree canopy cover by 2045. More information about the project’s tree planting program is on our website here.

North East Link's EPBC Act referral, DoEE's response and a copy of the Minister for the Environment’s approval including the conditions that apply, can be found on the Department of the Environment and Energy website at epbcnotices.environment.gov.au/publicnoticesreferrals

The referral number is 2018/8142

A copy of the Federal Minister for the Environment’s approval, including the full conditions the project will need to meet are available on the Department of the Environment and Energy EPBC referrals website here epbcnotices.environment.gov.au/referralslist under referral number 2018/8142.