Status

Ministers assessment published
Referral number:
Bilateral agreement reference:

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Background

Lower Murray Urban and Rural Water Corporation (LMW) proposes to undertake the Victorian Murray Floodplain Restoration Project (VMFRP) which consists of nine discrete sub-projects including both Hattah Lakes North and Belsar-Yungera floodplain restoration projects.

The Hattah Lakes North Floodplain Restoration Project aims to return a more natural flood regime to 1,130 hectares of the Hattah Lakes floodplains complex, within Hattah-Kulkyne National Park and Murray-Kulkyne Park.

The Belsar-Yungera Floodplain Restoration Project aims to return a more natural flood regime to 2,375 hectares of the Belsar-Yungera floodplain complex within the Narcooyia Creek, Bonyaricall Creek and Yungera Creek anabranches of the Murray River.

The works proposed for these projects will include construction of channels, large and small regulators, containment structures, temporary cofferdams, spillways, new access tracks and realignments/upgrades to existing access tracks, and borrow pit sites to supply fill material to support construction.

As per the Minister for Planning’s decisions on the Hattah Lakes North and Belsar-Yungera environment effects statement (EES) referrals, one EES was prepared to assess the potential environmental effects of both projects.

Minister’s assessment

On 1 July 2023, the Minister for Planning issued her assessment of the environmental effects of each project under the Environment Effects Act 1978. The assessment has been provided to the proponent and statutory decision-makers to inform approval decisions on each of the projects, including the planning scheme amendment.

This includes the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and Water to inform her decision about each project under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The Minister’s assessment concludes that both projects would result in some significant adverse impacts during construction, however both can also achieve an overall improvement to biodiversity in these floodplain environments, subject to further hydraulic analysis and measures in accordance with the assessment. While the residual environmental effects can be acceptably managed, that is contingent upon effective implementation of mitigation and an environmental management regime consistent with that endorsed by the standing inquiry and advisory committee (SIAC) and refined through the assessment.

Public review and Inquiry

Inquiry and advisory committee

On 24 April 2023, a standing inquiry and advisory committee (SIAC) provided its report to the Minister for Planning on the Hattah Lakes North and Belsar-Yungera Floodplain Restoration Projects. The EES covering both projects was referred to the SIAC in September 2022. The SIAC held a directions hearing on 28 November 2022 and a public hearing from 17 January 2023 to 8 February 2023 to consider the EES, public submissions and information form the proponent.

Exhibition

The EES and draft planning scheme amendment were publicly exhibited for comment for 30 business days, from Monday 3 October 2022 to 11.59pm on Monday 14 November 2022.

You can view the EES, project documentation and any related documents at Victorian Murray Floodplain Restoration Project.

You can view submissions received at Engage Victoria.

EES Preparation

Consultation plan

LMW prepared a consultation plan for the EES, outlining the opportunities and approaches for its community engagement during the preparation of the EES.

The addendum below provides further details of specific consultation activities planned.

The plan and addendum may be updated as required during the preparation of the EES. If updates are made, the updated versions will be posted on this page.

Further details of specific consultation activities are provided in the below addendum.

Technical reference group

The department convened an inter-agency technical reference group to advise the proponent and the department, as appropriate, on scoping and adequacy of studies during the preparation of the EES, as well as coordination with statutory approval processes.

The organisations represented on the technical reference group are:

  • DTP – Impact Assessment
  • DEECA – Loddon Mallee Region
  • Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water
  • Earth Resources Regulation
  • Department of Transport and Planning
  • First Peoples State Relations
  • Heritage Victoria
  • First People of the Millewa-Mallee Aboriginal Corporation
  • Swan Hill Rural City Council
  • Mildura Rural City Council
  • Campaspe Shire Council
  • Gannawarra Shire Council
  • Mallee Catchment Management Authority
  • North Central Catchment Management Authority
  • Parks Victoria
  • Lower Murray Water
  • Goulburn Murray Water
  • Environment Protection Authority

Technical reference group representatives were supported by internal experts on specific aspects of the EES studies.

Scoping requirements

The scoping requirements set out the matters to be investigated and documented in the EES.

Draft scoping requirements for this EES were on public exhibition from 23 April to 14 May 2021.

After considering public submissions on the draft scoping requirements, the Minister for Planning issued final scoping requirements in July 2021, dated June 2021.

Minister's decision on referrals

Project contact

If you have any questions or feedback, please get in touch via the contact details below.

Proposed Hattah Lakes North Floodplain Restoration Project and Belsar-Yungera Floodplain Restoration Project queries:

Explore the restoration projects
✉ Email: info@vmfrp.vic.gov.au

Page last updated: 07/05/24