Airport Rail Link impacts

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Airport Rail Link impacts

The construction of the Airport Rail Link will impact numerous significant grassland sites across the West: Solomon Heights Grassland, Mathews Hill Grassland, Denton Avenue Grassland (the old Sunshine landfill), as well as numerous smaller patches along the rail corridor. The loss of some of the smaller patches is inevitable. No-go zones have been specified to limit the impacts to the most significant areas, but the noise, vibrations and dust will still result in negative impacts for the flora and fauna that call these grasslands home. Major construction works like this can have less obvious impacts too, such as permanently affecting hydrology.

The poor survey work used to justify the lack of some no-go zones is a real concern, especially at Solomon Heights (River Valley Estate) grasslands. We are also calling for noise walls for fauna (as well as for humans!), recognition of the shadowing impacts of the rail viaducts, and better management of threatened species such as the Striped Legless Lizard. You can read our submissions to the Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment here and here.

The Grassy Plains Network recognises the importance of the Airport Rail Link. We ask for absolute best practice in minimising damage to and loss of the precious remnant patches of grassland along this project’s path.

You can read our submission to Rail Projects Victoria here.

Rocks, graves and trains

Old cemeteries and rail corridors, along with the rockiest patches of the Victorian Volcanic Plain, have been places of refuge for our grasslands. Protection from grazing, ploughing and “improvement” by superphosphate has been their salvation. Places like St Albans Rail reserve are incredibly important – it is a tiny patch near the St Albans Train Station and home to several critically endangered species, with immeasurable significance in terms of the history of grassland research in Australia.

Keep offsets local

We know grassland is going to be lost. Those losses will be offset. The Grassy Plains Network believes those offsets should be kept local. We ask that Rail Projects Victoria acts in a transparent and proactive manner with respect to its obligations to protect threatened grasslands, and that offsets are directed to helping save important grasslands such as like Solomon Heights, Ajax Road and Burns Road.

The Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act

The Airport Rail Link is affecting species and communities that are listed as protected under the EPBC Act, so the project has to be referred to the federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. The documents associated with those referrals discuss likely impacts. You can find the full set here. Search for “2021/9040” – that will get you documents related to the Sunshine section of the project. Search 2021/9081 to find documents relating to the “Corridor” section of the project. Clear as mud? Contact us for more info.

How you can help

Mathews Hill Grassland: landscape architecture by Pollen.