On 20 October at the State Library of Victoria’s Roadshow Theatrette, ACLCA and EIANZ hosted a Seminar on the approval processes for the Ravenhall Prison Site to those in the industry. Landserv’s Brendan McDermott attended the seminar that outlined the difficulties in obtaining environmental approvals from state and federal governments, on an ecologically sensitive former defence site.

The Ravenhall Prison Project will deliver a new medium security prison facility to accommodate 1000 prisoners and is expected to be completed in 2017.

Challenges faced during the approvals process included coordinating the ecological assessment of the Site while there was the potential for unexploded ordinances (UXOs) to be on site (due to the military history), and removing soil that was contaminated from various sources including asbestos and military ordnance. The ecology component was handled before any destructive investigations were allowed. The UXOs were cleared with a scanning device that was wheeled over the Site and as an area was cleared the ecologists came in to assess vegetation and fauna.

The removal of contaminated soil stockpiles was made difficult due to the various sources of contamination. Each stockpile of soil that was created had to be sifted with an excavator bucket sieve, attended by Class A Asbestos Removalists and UXO officers. This ensured the soil was correctly classified before disposal.

Brendan found the presentation very interesting and is grateful to the presenters, organisers and the Department of Justice for the opportunity to attend.