Molonglo Valley Strategic Assessment

Agreement to undertake the strategic assessment

On 16 September 2008, the ACT and Commonwealth Governments commenced a strategic assessment for development areas in Molonglo Valley under Part 10 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act). Development within the strategic assessment area is to be delivered by the ACT Government over 30 years.

The purpose of the strategic assessment was to assess the overall impacts of development in Molonglo Valley on Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES) which included:

  • Box gum woodland
  • Natural temperate grassland
  • Pink-tailed worm lizard
  • Superb parrot
  • Swift parrot

The strategic assessment includes all of East Molonglo with the exception of the suburbs of North Weston, Wright and a portion of Coombs. These three suburbs have prior approval under the EPBC Act (Reference numbers: 2009/5041, 2009/4752 and 2009/5050) and are therefore not included.

Map is showing the extent of the Molonglo Valley Strategic Assessment Area. This includes all of East Molonglo with the exception of the suburbs of North Weston, Wright and a portion of Coombs.  The  figure identifies development areas and the offset area which include the Molonglo River Corridor, Patch GG (adjacent to National arboretum) and the Kama Nature Reserve.

The Molonglo Valley Strategic Assessment Biodiversity Plan

The Molonglo Valley Plan for the Protection of Matters of National Environmental Significance (NES Plan) outlines a range of actions that are required to avoid, mitigate and offset the impacts of development in the Molonglo Valley Strategic Assessment area. These actions are implemented through commitments relating to planning, reporting, conservation and financial requirements in the NES Plan.

On 7 October 2011, the NES Plan was endorsed under the EPBC Act and the actions associated with the urban development within East Molonglo (not including the West Molonglo area) were approved by the Commonwealth on 20 December 2011.

West Molonglo is included within the scope of the strategic assessment as it includes MNES and was part of the same overall process to establish the Structure Plan. However, this area has now been incorporated into the West Belconnen Strategic Assessment which was prepared by Riverview Projects (ACT) Pty Ltd, and approved by the Commonwealth on 1 September 2019.

The Molonglo Strategic Assessment included a commitment to protect the Box-gum Woodland within West Molonglo. This commitment has been achieved under West Belconnen Strategic Assessment in creating the West Belconnen Conservation Corridor.

The NES Plan approval established a consolidated offsets package and has removed the need for site by site assessment of MNES in the Molonglo Valley Strategic Assessment area.

The NES Plan should be read in conjunction with the Molonglo Draft Strategic Assessment Report and the Supplementary Assessment Report.

Molonglo Valley Strategic Assessment Reports

Annual Reports

The NES Plan requires the ACT Government to provide Annual Reports to the Commonwealth.

The Annual Report provides findings on implementation of the actions and relevant conservation outcomes achieved in the reporting period (financial years), the objectives described in the NES Plan with respect to listed matters under ACT and Commonwealth legislation and updates on the status of investments, project success or failure.

Audit Report

The NES Plan specifies that an audit of the commitments in the Plan is required every five years to ensure commitments are being implemented.

The first audit of the Molonglo Valley Strategic Assessment was completed in April 2018. The Office of the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment (OCSE) undertook the audit as an independent authority under ACT legislation.

Expert Panel Review Reports

The NES Plan specifies that an Expert Panel Review Report must be completed every five years over the life of the Molonglo Valley Strategic Assessment. The Expert Panel Review Report evaluates the results of the monitoring program and other relevant information, and provides recommendations for any amendments necessary to ensure the operational plans are achieving the conservation outcomes and targets for MNES.

On 31 October 2018, the first Expert Panel Review Report (Molonglo Valley vegetation condition monitoring report 2013-2017) was submitted to the Commonwealth Government.

Management Plans

The NES Plan requires a range of management plans to be prepared that detail the specific actions that the ACT Government will carry out to maintain and enhance the MNES values within the strategic assessment area.

Construction Environmental Management Plans

The NES Plan requires Construction Environmental Management Plans (CEMP) for construction activities. CEMPs must be prepared by development proponents and may be subject to approval, monitoring, reporting and audit by relevant ACT Government authorities under the requirements of the development application assessment and approval process.

The CEMPs must include:

  • Safeguards for controlling heavy machinery movement to avoid adjacent habitat areas (e.g. temporary fencing)
  • Erosion prevention and mitigation measures (e.g. the use of mesh sediment fences to prevent construction materials from entering adjacent habitat areas)
  • Weed and disease control measures
  • Measures to relocate animals that are found within construction areas
  • Appropriate monitoring and reporting.

Where impacts to Pink-tailed Worm Lizard occur as part of the proposed development, a habitat rehabilitation component is required as part of the CEMP. The habitat rehabilitation component must be prepared by an expert in Pink-tailed Worm Lizard management.

For further information on the requirement for a CEMP and the habitat rehabilitation component, please contact EPDImpact@act.gov.au.

For more information visit the Molonglo Valley offset areas page.

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