The Channel Deepening Public Inquiry is today considering the Environment Management Plan (EMP) proposed for the Channel Deepening project (Friday, July 6th) however Blue Wedges has advised the Inquiry that it will not participate in the “discussions”.


Blue Wedges spokesperson Jenny Warfe says “We have listened politely to the Port of Melbourne Corporation’s (POMC) evidence over the last two weeks, without being able to engage in dialogue with their experts… (The Inquiry’s Terms of Reference prevent cross examination of Experts and provide for the proponent to manage contentious issues outside the public Inquiry). “What we have heard demonstrates that like the first EES, the EMP is again based on a series on non-integrated studies of the Bay. It is piecemeal science. Crucial studies have been omitted from this Supplementary EES, so the resultant EMP is fatally flawed”.

“The final straw is that the EMP draft was still not ready at COB last night and today’s EMP discussion will be presented by the PoMC’s legal team – not scientists”.  

Last week, PoMC Expert Dr. Matt Edmunds told the Inquiry of continued erosion of rock forms at Port Phillip Heads dredged during the 2005 Trial. Rocks are peeling off in large slabs, migrating northwards, and being moved around by the strong currents and natural turbulence of the area. A large hole has developed in the rock face which is wearing down and disintegrating more quickly than expected. Larger structures on the reef edge are becoming un-keyed and dropping down. Dr. Edmunds, a highly qualified marine ecologist with unparalled knowledge of the Port Phillips Heads Marine environment led the comprehensive pre and post trial dredging surveys. His most recent survey work was not included in the SEES and he is no longer part of the PoMC team of experts.

The 2005 Trial Dredge had a comprehensive EMP with specific safeguards for rockfall. Despite this; rocks fell, the dredge continued, and the PoMC released a press statement lauding the “successful completion” of the Trial. We have since learned that the rockfalls destroyed 3 hectares of sponge gardens, and that damage is still occurring!

Imagine our surprise then when the Expert Witness for Boskalis (the Dutch company that provides the dredge) recently informed the Public Inquiry that the company has never breached environmental standards. Imagine our frustration that the Terms of Reference ensured we couldn’t challenge him.

Despite overwhelming evidence of ongoing damage to the reef at The Heads, the Port Corporation still claims the Channel Deepening project will only cause temporary damage to the environment. 

 “The dredgers weren’t taken to task over the EMP breach during the Trial; in fact their work was praised by the Port Corporation*. If such serious breaches are condoned, the EMP is just a sick joke on the people of Victoria and the businesses that rely on the Bay. We won’t be part of the discussions that justify it” says Ms. Warfe

Blue Wedges will present their submission to the Inquiry on Monday 16th and Tuesday 17th July from 10 AM, Planning Panels Victoria, 8 Nicholson St. East Melbourne.

*See the Corporation’s Media Release http://www.channelproject.com/global/docs/MR_050902_TrialDredgeEntrance.pdf


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