Commonwealth approvals for ACT light rail

The Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories today released its report into Commonwealth and Parliamentary approvals for the proposed Stage 2 of the ACT light rail project.

In releasing the report, Committee Chair, Mr Ben Morton MP, explained the Commonwealth’s role in safeguarding the character and heritage of Canberra, saying that ‘the development of light rail must not come at the cost of the long-term character and heritage of the National Capital’.

‘We are not seeking to slow or hinder the approvals process, but rather to provide certainty for the ACT Government and the people of Canberra.’

‘The Light Rail Stage 2 project passes through and adjacent to a number of key cultural and heritage sites. Like all projects and proposals in these areas, it must be consistent with the legal requirements imposed by the National Capital Plan.’

Mr Morton explained that routes for rapid transit such as light rail are already provided for in the National Capital Plan, and that ‘if the ACT Government were to use these routes the project could quickly and easily move forward through the other approval processes.

‘However, should the ACT Government choose to pursue a route alignment that is only partially consistent with the National Capital Plan, this will unavoidably add further complexity, time, and cost to the project.

‘The committee has recommended that in that case, the ACT Government should work with the National Capital Authority to ensure Commonwealth approval of the route, by amending the National Capital Plan. This should be done before undertaking the full Works Approval application and other Commonwealth approval processes.’

The report makes 6 recommendations regarding the approvals process and heritage requirements.

The report can be accessed on the committee website.

/Public Release.