The City of Ballarat has hit back over claims it is in breach of several environmental obligations over the Lake Wendouree Lighting Project.
The Get The Lake Lights Right Group alleged on Friday Council had failed to obtain Federal approval for the 225 lights due to danger to threatened species.
The group says BCC “could face ‘substantial penalties’ for failing to seek approval from the Federal Minister for the Environment for the largely State Government funded project.”
Spokesperson Amy Jessop produced a letter at the time sent from Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek’s office.
“They’ve let us know that this project, because there is a threatened species at the lake, the Australasian Bittern, that it should have been referred to the Environment Minister under the Environmental Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act, and they’ve actually told us there is no record of anything to do with Lake Wendouree being referred to this act.”
In response, BCC states “The Australasian Bittern was included in the independent Biodiversity Impact Assessment conducted by external independent ecologist, Biosis, which found the species is not regular or resident within the area”, which Council says means it did not need to seek approval with the bird is unlikely to be impacted.
The group also accused Council of “failure to follow tree protection policies” in relation to the impact on 400 mature trees, which Council itself said could potentially be impacted upon by the proposed installation of the Lake lighting.
In response, Council says while a report stated 400 trees could be impacted, it does not necessarily mean “negatively impacted” and that “final pole locations will be coordinated with the design documents and will take into account Tree Protection Zones.”
Council says all obligations for environmental protection have been met and the project WILL be going ahead in February.