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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 September 2015) . . Page.. 3417 ..

Supplementary answer to questions without notice

Williamsdale solar farm

MR GENTLEMAN: Yesterday there were questions relating to the EIS exemption for the Williamsdale solar farm. I can clarify through my role as Minister for Planning that I have granted an EIS exemption, otherwise known as a 211, to the proposed Williamsdale solar farm. After a full public consultation process, I am confident that this is in the best interests of the government, the environment and the community.

After the public consultation period, conditions are now placed on this exemption to protect the native environment. These include that a development proposal needs to demonstrate that all reasonable measures have been taken to minimise native tree loss; all trees along Angle Crossing Road are retained; disturbance to understorey vegetation within the road surface and the road reserve is avoided; the removal of any mature trees outside the array is justified at the time of the submission of the development application; felled trees are to be used as habitat for local fauna in other areas; a weed management plan must be prepared and implemented as part of the CEMP; all supporting reports must be revised to reflect the adjustment of the solar facility location in response to the public submissions; fuel reduction measures within the nearby nature reserve are not allowed; a bushfire management plan should be developed for the establishment and maintenance of the asset protection zones in consultation with TAMS, ESA, the Conservator of Flora and Fauna and the EPDU utility regulation team; and the plan should outline at least the provisions of IAPZ and OAPZ.

The proponent has conducted comprehensive environmental planning, and the issue has also been previously addressed by the EPBC in 2012, which deemed there to be no further clearances needed from the national body in relation to native vegetation. This now allows the proponent to commence the development application process, which will give the community another opportunity to have their say on the development.

Canberra-Beijing—sister city relationship

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (3.17): I move:

That this Assembly:

(1) notes that:

(a) this month marks the 15th anniversary of the debate that gave the ACT Legislative Assembly’s approval for the establishment of the Canberra-Beijing Sister City relationship and its ongoing success;

(b) two per cent of Canberra’s population was born in China, and that Mandarin is the most commonly spoken language in Canberra after English;

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