The joint venture behind the huge Ginninderry cross-border residential development has applied for an environmental impact statement exemption for the vast bulk of the land release on the territory side of the border.
Riverview Projects ACT Pty Ltd, a joint venture between the territory government and the Corkhill Brothers, applied for the exemption for Stage Two of the Ginninderry project last week.
Staging of development at Ginninderry, West Belconnen, with the river and new nature reserve on the left.
The exemption application covers almost all of the proposed 11,000 sites in the ACT, beyond the early Stage One section at Straithnairn.
The application and a host of related documents has been released for public consultation until May 1 this year, and if Planning Minister Mick Gentleman approves it, will mean the developers will not have to complete a full EIS, based on previous studies.
Documents lodged with the ACT Planning and Land Authority show the development will directly impact on 16 hectares of high or medium value habitats for the endangered pink-tail worm lizard and 1.8 hectares of golden sun moth habitat.
But Riverview managing director David Maxwell said those impacts, while unavoidable, would be offset by a proposed 660 hectare conservation corridor - one of the key conditions the federal government imposed when it gave the project Commonwealth environmental approvals last year.
While the application also shows potential impacts on a host of other vulnerable flora and fauna, a series of environmental reports lodged with the planning authority show those impacts would be very minor, if they eventuate at all.
Mr Maxwell said the corridor would also be overseen by a conservation trust with a nine person board, including local residents, a few subject matter experts, territory government and company representatives, while the ACT government would manage the land on the ground.
The application also shows there would be increasing impacts on the Murrumbidgee River corridor as the development was released, associated with greater recreational use of the land, though the trust would also oversee allowed activities in the area.
Mr Maxwell said the board would also have to seek approval from the territory's Conservator every three to five years to ensure the ongoing development was meeting the standards required.
He said while the development is to be staged over many years, the joint venture had applied for an exemption up front to allow both a more efficient process, and to better take into account the cumulative impact of it.
Mr Maxwell said the company had been working since 2008 on the environmental assessments lodged with the application, and while it was confident they had done the work, he said any approval of an exemption would be up to the authority.
"We've done the work and now the process is that goes out today for the community to review the documentation, and it closes on the first of May, so people have a month to provide comments to the directorate," he said.
"I'm confident we've done everything we need to, but that's the process and we'll be bound by whatever the decision is," he said.
Mr Maxwell said the company then expected to lodge a second estate development plan for about 880 dwellings in June or July this year, as part of the 16-stage land release on the territory side of the border.