Page 4549 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 31 October 2018
from an EIS process despite objections from the Conservator of Flora and Fauna, the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment, local community groups and submissions made about protection of the little eagle nesting places, golden sun moths and the pink-tailed worm-lizard. The ACT government has a 50 per cent stake in the Ginninderry development. Minister, what actions have you taken to ensure that you did not have a conflict of interest in waiving the EIS for this project?
MR GENTLEMAN: I thank Ms Lee for the question. I will give some background first. On 9 March 2018 Riverview projects formally lodged an application for the environmental impact statement exemption under section 211 of the Planning and Development Act 2007 for the urban development of Ginninderry stage 2 and subsequent stages as well. In October I granted the EIS exemption—as Ms Lee noted was in the newspaper today—to the Ginninderry project as I am satisfied that the expected environmental impact of the proposal has been sufficiently addressed through recent studies. I did that after looking at recent studies and advice from EPSDD. I am the minister for planning and, therefore, had the opportunity under that title and under the act to provide that exemption.
But I will say that an EIS exemption is not an approval process. It is a recognition of the work that has already occurred. Of course members would be aware that we made changes due to the then recent studies in the area way back in 2016 about protection for the little eagle and for buffer zones there. There is no conflict of interest.
MS LEE: Minister, did any minister, including the Chief Minister and Treasurer or the Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, approach or write to you urging the waiver of the EIS?
MR GENTLEMAN: There is no waiver. This is in regard to an exemption for an EIS in recognition of the work that has already been done.
Opposition members interjecting—
MR GENTLEMAN: We are hearing from the shadow minister against the environment in this case. It is pretty interesting to see her on this side of the chamber talking about this particular aspect.
It is important, of course, that work is done when we see development applications come through to ensure that they stand by the conditions that are put forward in any EIS exemption. That would be the next process when a DA comes forward.
Ms Lee: Madam Speaker, on a point of order, the minister did not answer the question. The question clearly was: did any minister, including the Chief Minister and Treasurer or the Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, approach him urging him on this process? He has failed to answer that question.
MADAM SPEAKER: Did you have anything further to add?
MR GENTLEMAN: I cannot recall any correspondence to me in regard to this matter, but I will take that on notice and have a look at the records.