Salt sites EES calls

PLANS to redevelop salt pans at Moolap and Lara will undergo environmental effects statements, according to the site’s owner.
Ridley announced the environmental studies as Geelong Environment Council asked Planning Minister Matthew Guy to can what it called the “environmentally disastrous” development.
The Independent revealed last year that Ridley wanted to redevelop the $3.5 million sites after declaring them surplus to requirements.
Ridley chief John Murray said this week that state and federal governments had notified the company it would have to carry out the environmental statement studies.
“We’re in the process of preparing the scope of the work required to ensure we cover all the issues raised,” he said.
“The environment council will get an absolute opportunity to have input through the process for the very reasons the state and federal governments have called for the study.
“Everyone has their view, so once we do the work the community consultation can start. It’s difficult to make substantial claims before the process has been laid out.
“I feel so strongly about the environmental credentials of the site and the project that I’m confident we can deal with all the issues raised.”
Environment council president Joan Lindros wrote in the letter to Mr Guy that her organisation strongly opposed the development.
She called on Mr Guy to abandon further State Government considerations of the proposal to avoid a “long, divisive and expensive process” for the “company, government and council and the community”.
Ms Lindros listed risks of “devastating” loss of important bird habitat and potential public land and “possible … mobilisation of toxic chemicals in Corio Bay”.
She also cited Australia’s participation in international treaties to protect wetlands and bird habitats.
“Moolap salt pans provide food, foraging and shelter for at least 22 species of threatened migratory birds.
“The loss of 460 hectares out of the complex of remaining wetlands is unacceptable.”
Ms Lindros said Geelong had ample area already available or undergoing development and raised concerns about the impact of rising sea levels on the site.