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In an ideal world, your project plan would look the same in the delivery phase as it did when you first put it together. In reality, though, as field work findings come in, you’ll often have curve balls thrown at you that push your timeline back. It can even result in having to change the track alignment altogether.
In such cases, extra investigations, reports, reviews, and board and government approvals all have to be completed. Finalising these approvals can easily add as many as 6-18 months to your critical path timeline, not to mention extra costs – for example, compensation for landowners impacted by resumptions along the new alignment route.
Have a look at the video below, to gain a better understanding of how Inland Rail conducts its field assessments, and particularly its cultural heritage surveys.
After the field surveyors have conducted their investigations, it’s time to ask the big questions: what constraints are we dealing with exactly, and how are they going to impact our project plan?
The results are in!
The field reports have been submitted, and we’ve identified a number of ecological and cultural heritage concerns along the proposed alignment that are likely to impact your critical path and timeline.
Check out this video from your Program Environment Advisor, Vanessa, summarising field survey data and where to go from here. Hint: don't forget to take some notes📝for later!
Here's a visual of the findings to help you out!
Check out these helpful links to get you learning more about these environmental concerns…
1. Native vegetation clearing
2. Impacts on vulnerable fauna:
3. Endangered species of flora
Extra info links!
Now that you know what issues you’ll be looking out for, it’s time to compare that knowledge against the legislation that covers Australian biodiversity and cultural heritage preservation during infrastructure development.
The main pieces of federal and state legislation that environmental planners work under are:
1. The Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act)
This is the main environmental protection legislation enacted by the Commonwealth of Australia. Have a read of this fact sheet, which summarises the purpose of the EPBC Act, and how it fits into the framework of the environmental assessment process.
2. State-enacted conservation legislation. For example, the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992, and NSW’s Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.
The Narromine to Narrabri track is located in New South Wales, so we will focus on the regulatory process there.
In NSW, things are relatively easy - if you abide by the NSW BC Act, then you meet the EPBC Act requirements by default (teams working in Queensland have the reverse situation).
In NSW, the process used to determine the impact on biodiversity values (vegetation, threatened flora and fauna) from the project construction is the Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM).
The BAM classifies the impact down to what is the impact likely to be from the project and this is identified as a ‘credit obligation’.