PLANNING for the first stage of Canberra's city wide light rail network is on track with official completion of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Capital Metro Minister Simon Corbell announced last week.
"Following four weeks of consultation on the draft EIS in June/July this year, in which 60 responses from the community and local businesses were received, the final EIS is now complete," Mr Corbell said.
"This marks an important milestone in working towards delivering stage one of Canberra's light rail network.
"Development of the EIS has helped the government explore all potential environmental impacts before construction of the light rail starts to make sure that they can be prevented or minimised through a range of effective mitigation measures. The EIS has also identified benefits and opportunities that will be delivered as a result of the project.
"Following consultation on the draft EIS, the Capital Metro Agency worked through all comments received and has addressed any outstanding issues prior to lodging the final document with the planning and land authority."
One of the key issues raised by the community and local business was the potential use of the Magistrates Court car park of London Circuit as a compound site during construction of Capital Metro stage one.
"The ACT Government listened to concerns and has put measures in place to ensure the amount of parking in and near the Magistrates Court car park is maintained or increased above its current level during construction," Mr Corbell said.
"The final EIS document reflects the recent announcement made by government that only 50 per cent of the car park will be available for use as a compound site should it be required by the successful bidder.
"This is just one of the many mitigation measures identified through the EIS process. We are also in the process of consulting with city businesses and other key stakeholders on two options that could increase current parking levels in this area of the city during construction."
In preparing their assessment report of the final EIS, the planning and land authority has confirmed that they are satisfied that the final document considers all relevant impacts to the project and addresses public comments.
"With the EIS now complete, the Capital Metro Agency can move into the next phase of planning for light rail by preparing to lodge a Development Application for the project. An impact track development application is required for Capital Metro stage one, Gungahlin to City, and will include another opportunity for the community to provide feedback," Mr Corbell said.
The final EIS document for Capital Metro stage one and the planning and land authority's assessment report is available from the ACT Government's Environment and Planning Directorate website at <http://www.planning.act.gov.au/>.
Image: Artist's impression of light rail on Flemington Road, Canberra / Capital Metro.