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Mernda Rail Project Factsheet: Environment

26 May 2016

The State Government is extending the South Morang train line to Mernda to cater for the significant population growth in Melbourne's north. As the corridor has generally not been used since 1959, vegetation and local animals have been allowed to thrive within the corridor and as such the project has undertaken comprehensive investigations to understand all aspects of the local environment, and the potential impacts the project may have on this, so we can provide opportunities to avoid or reduce any such impacts.

Flora and fauna

An assessment of existing flora in the project area found a range of species. Forty habitat zones of remnant native vegetation were observed, particularly noting the River Red Gums and other large trees which are habitats for the Common Ring-tail Possum.

The Matted Flax-lily is a critically endangered plant that was found when the railway line was extended to South Morang, and is also present in our project area in a number of areas. Any of these endangered plants potentially impacted by the project will be successfully relocated to appropriate conservation areas prior to construction works. Due to potential impacts to the Matted Flax-lily, the project is being referred to the Victorian Minister for Planning, via an Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) referral, which is required under the Environment Effects Act.

In addition to relocating vegetation, the project will offset any removed vegetation and will include landscaping and urban design measures to address visual amenity.

The ecological investigation also included observing and the recording of fauna in the area. No threatened fauna were identified, and further investigations into the presence of threatened and migratory species (including the Swift Parrot and Growling Grass Frog) found a low likelihood of occurrence in the project area.

The outcome of the investigation recommended the development of a Kangaroo Management Plan to address the large numbers of Eastern Grey Kangaroos and noted that the large trees in the project area are likely to be a habitat for the Common Ring-tail Possum. These with all the other findings are incorporated into the project's environmental management plan.

Aboriginal cultural heritage

The heritage investigations for the project included a review of background information, followed by a ground survey and test excavations to identify sites of aboriginal cultural heritage significance. Lithic artefacts such as stone tools and chipped stone were recorded at two locations within the project area and two locations adjacent to the project area. Any artefacts found within the construction area are relocated prior to construction.

A Draft Cultural Heritage Management Plan (No. 13635) has been prepared for the project in consultation with the Wurundjeri Tribe Land and Compensation Cultural Heritage Council (Registered Aboriginal Party) which will be finalised and submitted and approved prior to commencement of works.

Post-settlement heritage

An extensive historical archaeological assessment has been undertaken within the project area. The rail corridor crosses the heritage listed Yan Yean Pipe Track at two locations, which was built in the 1850's, and the rail is also set to be constructed on the former Whittlesea railway line that was built in 1889 which still retains some of the original railway infrastructure, including evidence of the former Mernda and South Morang stations. The project will seek consent from Heritage Victoria to undertake works on these archaeological sites and also seek approvals required under the Heritage Act 1995 and also the Whittlesea Planning Scheme.

More information

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us on 1800 105 105 or subscribe to project email updates.

View the PDF print version of this fact sheet PDF, 606.6 KB

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