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Loss of woodland

The proposed Third Runway will destroy endangered woodland, and any proposed compensating offsets are likely to be ineffective. 
The Third Runway Major Development Plan addresses clearfelling of endangered Grey Box Woodland in Part B – Airport, specifically Chapter B5: Ecology, and Part E – Management framework, specifically Chapter E3: Offset management strategy.


Protected woodlands are threatened with extinction

• Significant biodiversity. Melbourne Airport has a significant biodiversity ecosystem including Grey Box Woodland, located at the northern end of the airport (1).

• Threatened with extinction. The Grey Box Woodland covering 136.57 hectares has two ecosystem communities now threatened with extinction. Listed under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) as Grey Box and Grassy Woodlands, and the Derived Native Grasslands of South Eastern Australia, they are protected by the EPBC Act. 

• The EPBC Act offsets policy allows destruction of this woodland. But neither the location of any offset or the date of its purchase are mentioned in the MDP. 

• The offsets policy results in a net loss of habitat. The 2020 interim report of the Independent review of the EPBC Act said that “Environmental offsets do not offset impacts of developments”. The EPBC Act offsetting conditions are met by “purchasing and improving an area of land with the same habitat as that which is destroyed or damaged by the development. This offset is then protected from future development. Across the range of developments that use averted loss offsets, a net reduction of habitat has resulted”. The “offsets policy … has not resulted in projects avoiding increasingly scarce habitat”.

• The offsets policy requires fundamental review. “Because most offsets are averted loss offsets, the offset policy in its current form delivers little other than weak protection of remnant habitats of Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES) that may have never been at risk of development. It requires fundamental review” (2).

Deforestation, coupled with the rampant destruction of natural resources, will soon have devastating effects on the future of society as we know it (3).


• An Environment Impact Statement that includes a transparent risk assessment for the woodland loss must be completed.

Delay submission of the Third Runway Major Development Plan to the federal transport minister, until the EIS has been presented for community scrutiny.