Rubbery guidelines for major construction works risk unnecessary impacts on local communities and need to be strengthened, according to Eastern Metropolitan MP Rod Barton.
Mr Barton will address the government’s expert advisory panel for the North East Link on Monday morning (September 9 at 9.45am) and will call for Victoria’s Environmental guidelines for major infrastructure construction works to be mandatory requirements on the project.
“Victoria’s construction standards are out of step with community expectations, and out of step with every other state in Australia,” he said.
“There is no value in having the state’s environmental watchdog, the Environment Protection Authority, set down guidelines and regulations that can be ignored by construction contractors.”
Mr Barton’s view is echoed by hundreds of submissions made to the North East Link Planning Panel.
“The North East Link Planning Panel received more than 850 submissions and 78 percent of those included concerns regarding construction impacts – that’s a clear indication that action needs to be taken,” he said.
Managed by the Environment Protection Authority, the guidelines were introduced in 1997 and include recommendations for contractors to manage, dust, noise, traffic, disruptions, light-spill and run off. The recommendations are however disregarded on many projects where the contractors’ schedules are put ahead of community needs.
Mr Barton is advocating that the guidelines be made mandatory on all government construction sites and that principal contractors be made responsible for ensuring that all of their subcontractors and service providers comply.
“Dust is an example of the many problems that construction work causes – the guidelines suggest dust should not leave the worksite. I want the guidelines to be enforceable and, if the wind picks up then the contractors need to be ready to use water sprays or slow the speed of trucks and equipment.
“If the dust is not controlled and it covers neighbours’ cars and pools, then the contractor must pay to clean it up.
“This is just common sense and best practice – in every other state in Australia it’s law – and if Victoria is going to call itself the leading infrastructure state, then we need to do better,” Mr Barton said.
“The North East Link Project is needed, but it’s not good enough to leave the management of construction impacts in the hands of the contractors.”
The EPA Guidelines can be found here: https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/~/media/Publications/480.pdf