The Department of Justice and Community Safety has acquired 67 hectares of land near Cherry Creek to the south west of Werribee on which to build the new youth justice centre. This land is owned by Melbourne Water as part of the broader Western Treatment Plant landholdings, and has been used intermittently for cattle grazing.
The site is relatively flat, with some small rocky outcrops, and is generally covered with native grassland. There are two small creeks that cross the site, which are dry most of the year.
A range of studies are being undertaken to understand the important values of the site and to inform work to identify and minimise any impacts, including:
- Ecological assessment
- Targeted surveys for threatened species
- Cultural heritage assessment
- Geotechnical and soil contamination assessment.
The land on which the new youth justice centre is being built does not contain any ecological values typically associated with a Ramsar site such as wetlands, shorelines or important habitat for migratory species.
Commonwealth and State environmental approvals
Environmental approvals are required from Commonwealth and State authorities before construction can commence. Referrals will be made to the Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Energy under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, and to the Victorian Minister for Planning under the Environment Effects Act, to seek these approvals.
The design and construction of the new youth justicecentre will be done in a way to minimise impacts as much as possible. For example, the centre will be located on the overall site in such a way as to avoid the larger areas of higher quality native grassland.
An Environmental Management Plan will be developed that sets out the measures to reduce or avoid impacts during the construction of the new centre. This may include fencing off areas of high value, protecting waterways from sediment and reducing the spread of weeds.
Where impacts cannot be avoided, action will be undertaken to mitigate them. This will include acquiring offsets for any threatened native grassland cleared, and will be documented in an Offsets Management Plan
Ecologically Sustainable Development
The Victorian Government is committed to principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) in the development and operation of government buildings and facilities. The new youth justice centre’s design, landscaping and site services strategy incorporates a variety of ESD design features.
The ESD strategy for the project responds to the following key themes:
- energy efficiency (for example, passive design, energy-efficient lighting and alternative energy initiatives)
- water efficiency (for example, low-flow fittings and water re-use)
- environmentally sound building materials (for example, incorporation of recycled materials)
- waste minimisation (for example, recycling to divert waste from landfill).