VicRoads plans to duplicate part of the Western Highway to bypass the town of Beaufort. The Western Highway is one of Victoria’s busiest rural highways with approximately 6,500 vehicles travelling the road west of Ballarat each day. With traffic expected to increase in the future, the bypass will improve road safety and remove trucks from the centre of the town.
As part of the planning process, VicRoads is currently gathering all the information required to assess the route options, which will be included in the Environment Effects Statement (EES). This detailed assessment of the potential environmental impacts of the project will help the Minister, local government and statutory authorities decide if, and how, to proceed with the bypass.
In 2015, WSP completed an initial targeted threatened species survey for the project. We also completed a year-long, detailed flora and fauna assessment. These studies have helped inform subsequent stages of the project including design and mitigation measures and enabled us to secure the contract for the EES.
The purpose of our current work is to characterise the existing environment in line with the Scoping Requirements for the Beaufort Bypass Project under the Environment Effects Act 1978.
Expanding Environmental Knowledge
We are building upon previous investigations completed within the study area to:
- Review and present the results of targeted surveys of threatened flora and fauna species
- Assess all fieldwork data and information from relevant literature and databases against relevant policy and legislation
- Provide detailed flora and fauna species assessments, detailed tree surveys, habitat hectare assessments, aquatic fauna surveys and vegetation mapping
Mapping Important Ecological Findings
This project involved establishing and implementing an ecological assessment program for grassy woodlands and forests along with associated fauna and flora habitat. The baseline assessment surveys detailed tree surveys and various new findings of threatened flora and fauna species.
Our studies have already helped to refine the three draft bypass options. VicRoads has refined one of the draft options to avoid the Golden Sun Moth habitat identified during our flora and fauna surveys. It has removed another option from further planning studies because of the negative impact on the local environment.