Ecological Impact Assessment
An independent ecological assessment of Melbourne Airport’s Runway Development Program (RDP) has examined the potential impacts of the RDP’s construction and operations on local flora, fauna and their habitats.
The assessment was undertaken by specialist ecology and heritage consultants Biosis, who carried out surveys within the 1,000-hectare study zone, including a proposed 500-hectare construction area.
A field survey of the construction area was carried out over a period of 18 months to capture seasonal variations. The survey team also sought out species listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999.
Additional databases such as the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, Flora Information System, the New Atlas of Australian Birds and Melbourne Water Fish database were also used to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the area.
EPBC Act-listed fauna species searched for include the Swift Parrot, Striped Legless Lizard, Growling Grass Frog, Australian Grayling, Yarra Pygmy Perch, Dwarf Galaxias and the Golden Sun-moth. Aquatic habitat and fauna surveys were also undertaken at 10 sites along Deep Creek, Jackson’s Creek, Arundel Creek and the Maribyrnong River.
EPBC Act-listed flora species searched for include the Natural Temperate Grassland of the Victorian Volcanic Plain, Grey Box Woodland, River swamp Wallaby-grass and Matted flax-lily.
Three EPBC Act-listed species were identified within the study area:
- The Growling Grass Frog
- The Natural Temperate Grassland of the Victorian Volcanic Plain (NTGVVP)
- Grey Box (Eucalyptus microcarpa) Grassy Woodlands and Derived Native Grasslands of South-Eastern Australia (‘Grey Box Woodland’).
The Growling Grass Frog was found in small numbers in an upstream section of Arundel Creek. To preserve the flow of the creek, 500 metres of the creek is proposed to be piped and buried as part of the runway construction works. The larger frog population is not expected to be impacted as this area is not a known breeding habitat.
The NTGVVP, a grass species local to Melbourne’s north-west, lies within the proposed construction area. The grassland was surveyed and found to be of low quality due to agricultural, construction and maintenance activity over many years. Around 87 hectares is proposed to be removed to enable construction to occur.
Pending the final design of the access road to the construction site from Sunbury Road, about 40 trees—or less than four per cent of the total Grey Box woodland forest—may need to be removed. The removal of any trees will be offset in accordance with EPBC Act requirements (see below).
The assessment noted that some migratory bird species may travel through the study area; however, these were not observed during the study period and the study area is not deemed as critical habitat for any of the listed bird species.
Melbourne Airport is developing an Environmental Management Plan to mitigate impacts to local flora and fauna during the construction and operation of the RDP.
Where mitigation is not possible, an Offset Management Plan will be developed for the relevant impacted species. The plan will detail suitable offset locations and sites, and will be developed in accordance with the EPBC Act and EPBC Act Offsets Policy, which require the approval of the Commonwealth Department of the Environment.
Melbourne Airport will work with all stakeholders, including government and the community, to ensure any environmental impacts from the RDP are either avoided, minimised or offset according to Commonwealth Government policy.