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Melbourne’s Metro Tunnel project involves the development of twin 9 km rail tunnels and five new underground stations. The new Metro Tunnel will let more trains run in and out of the city by giving the Cranbourne/Pakenham and Sunbury lines their own tunnel through the CBD.
The Melbourne Metro Rail Authority (MMRA) is responsible for delivering the project, from planning and development, stakeholder engagement and procurement, through to managing construction. Construction works will be delivered through a series of work packages.
As Victoria’s environmental regulator, Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has given MMRA advice on a range of issues including contaminated soil management, air and groundwater quality and best-practice noise-mitigation measures.
The Metro Tunnel project undertook an Environment Effects Statement (EES) process, a requirement of the Minister for Planning’s original ‘public works’ declaration. The EES was an integrated assessment of the potential environmental, social, economic and planning impacts of the project, and the approach to managing these impacts.
Early works are under way for the Metro Tunnel project ahead of major construction starting next year (2018). These works include relocating services such as electricity, gas, sewerage, stormwater drains and telecommunications. Other early works include shaft construction, site preparation and tram diversions.
Further information about specific works is available on the Metro Tunnel website.
Noise and vibration
EPA’s Noise control guidelines (publication 1254) outline the expectations of proponents (including MMRA and its contractors) to identify, plan and act to address noise and vibration impacts during construction.
In addition, EPA’s Environmental guidelines for major construction sites (publication 480) provides MMRA with advice on how to implement sound practices that minimise environmental impacts and eliminate nuisance to residents.
These guidelines are not mandatory or enforceable by law, but provide MMRA and its contractors with guidance on best-practice measures to mitigate impacts.
Key aspects of the guidelines relevant to MMRA include the following:
- Noise should be inaudible within a habitable room of any residential premises from 10 pm to 7 am, Monday to Sunday.
- Affected premises should be notified of unavoidable works, their duration and times of occurrence.
- That a study on the impact of ground vibration from construction activities is undertaken where these operations occur within 50 metres of building – and that appropriate action is taken to minimise any impacts.
What are unavoidable works?
Unavoidable works are works that cannot practicably meet EPA’s guidelines because the work involves continuous work – such as a concrete pour – or would otherwise pose an unacceptable risk to life or property, or risk a major traffic hazard.
Some unavoidable night-time works will be required during the Metro Tunnel project to enable safe construction and minimise disruption to the transport system.
Where noisy works are unavoidable, MMRA is expected to demonstrate that all reasonable efforts have been made to minimise the impact of the noise on people’s rest and recreation.
Air quality (including dust)
Dust is a common air pollutant and anticipated to be one of several community impacts from the Metro Tunnel project.
Air quality in Victoria is protected by two state environment protection policies, or SEPPs, which are adopted by government to protect Victoria’s air environment.
MMRA is required to comply with the following SEPPs:
The SEPPs establish a regulatory framework for managing emissions into the air environment in Victoria from all sources of air pollutants, including dust.
Air quality impacts were also assessed through the project’s EES process. For further information, see the air quality page on the Metro Tunnel website.
Waste and soil from demolition and construction work
MMRA must manage its waste in accordance with Victoria’s environment laws.
Wastes generated from commercial or industrial sources that are potentially hazardous to humans or the environment require a higher level of control and are called prescribed industrial wastes (PIW).
Material classified as PIW must be appropriately transported to landfill and accompanied by the relevant documentation, in accordance with the Environment Protection Industrial Waste Resource Regulations 2009. The Regulations require PIW to be transported in a vehicle with an EPA permit and a waste transport certificate accompanying the load.
PIW can only be transported to EPA-licensed facilities. It is the responsibility of the waste producer, transporter and receiver to ensure that a waste transport certificate is completed for each consignment of PIW.
Where excess soil is generated, it must either be disposed of or reused in accordance with the Regulations and the State Environment Protection Policy (Prevention and Management of Contamination of Land) 2002.
If you have a question or concern about noise, dust, waste or other environmental impacts, please contact MMRA on 1800 551 927 or visit www.metrotunnel.vic.gov.au.
MMRA can answer questions about Metro Tunnel works in your area.
You can also contact EPA for general information, or to make a report, about noise, dust or other environmental impacts by calling 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC)