Alliance to protect Hattah from toxic waste

December 17, 2004

A delegation of Victoria's peak environment groups visited the proposed Hattah/Nowingi site for hazardous waste facility in north-west Victoria, yesterday.

The site proposed by Major Projects Victoria (MPV), includes unique flora and fauna, including old growth mallee scrub, the endangered Malleefowl, and the Emu wren.

The visit took place only days after the State Government released an environment report on the proposed site.

The report assigned the site the highest class of environmental value.

"The site visit yesterday demonstrated clearly the conservation value of this site, and the risks posed to this habitat by Major Projects Victoria's plan to dump toxic waste in what is essentially landfill technology," said Loretta O'Brien spokesperson for Friends of the Earth.

"Our site visit confirmed what our experts have been telling us, namely that this is a vitally important habitat for a range of endangered species, including Malleefowl, Emu wren and the Long-eared bat," Ms O'Brien said.

These views were strongly shared by other members of the Alliance delegation.

"This is a very special place immediately adjacent to two National Parks. What we saw yesterday affirms what the Government's own consultant's report has admitted: it is a very important environmental area that must be afforded the same protection. That is it must be incorporated into the Hattah/Kulkyne National Park," said Bernie Fox,
President of the Victorian National Parks Association.

In a report released this week, the consultants employed by MPV, Biosis, acknowledged that the proposed site is of "very high conservation significance".

This is the highest rating they can give such an area and it means that the development cannot go ahead without direct approval from the Minister for the Environment and Water, John Thwaites.

According to the law such Ministerial approval is "not permitted unless exceptional circumstances apply".

"There are no circumstances that can justify the destruction of such critical habitat for so many endangered species and there is no legal way that this project can proceed at Hattah," Marcus Godinho, Executive Director of Environment Victoria, said.

"It is time that the Premier intervened. If the Government applies its native vegetation and policies it would rule out the proposed Hattah site," he said.

"The Premier Steve Bracks should start a new process that includes representatives from community groups, environment groups and others to determine an appropriate location and appropriate technology," Mr
Godinho said.

The Alliance for Appropriate Management of Hazardous waste is comprised of:

The Australian Conservation Foundation, Birds Australia, Friends of the Earth, Bird Observers Club of Australia, Environment Victoria, National Toxics Network, Residents Against Toxic Waste In South East, Save the Foodbowl Alliance, The Wilderness Society, Victorian National Parks Association, and the Western Region Environment Centre.