Major Road Projects Victoria has responded to criticism of its processes emerging from the recent Federal Court hearing.
"Major Roads Projects Victoria (MRPV) has consistently respected all approval processes as we get on with building this much needed project, and we'll continue to work within the agreed 3.85 kilometre section of the approved alignment," a spokesperson said.
The agreed section is between Dobie Rd and Langi Ghiran Picnic Ground Road, adjacent to the existing highway.
Major works within this section includes earthworks, drainage work and widening the existing highway, involving the use of pavement-laying machinery. Construction activity also involves tree trimming and removal in this agreed section.
In addition to the major works within the 3.85km alignment, additional agreed works outside of that area included installing no-go fencing to protect areas of significant vegetation, environmental surveying, soil testing and establishing a site compound.
"As we are awaiting the outcome of hearings between the Federal Government and certain traditional owners in relation to Western Highway duplication project, we won't be commenting further."
DJAB Wurrung activists are awaiting a Federal Court decision that could determine the fate of the controversial Western Highway duplication project.
The court will decide whether or not the federal environment minister's decision not to protect Indigenous sites along the proposed highway in Buangor, near Ararat, is reversed.
Minister Sussan Ley made the decision back in July 2019, which is being challenged in the Federal Court by Traditional Owners.
The project, which would see the Western Highway duplicated between Buangor and Ararat, has been the subject of protests by Traditional Owners and environmentalists since 2015.
Lawyer Micheal Kennedy said the hearing finished just before 3pm Friday November 22 and said a decision is expected by or around December 20.
Mr Kennedy said Justice Robertson's decision would hinge on whether the Minister's decision had followed the correct legal process, and whether or not Major Road Projects Victoria can be ordered not to take any action until the Minister makes a new decision.
"We argued the Minister did not follow the law precisely," he said.
Mr Kennedy said the Minister was not properly informed by her Department, and was not aware of communications between VicRoads and Aboriginal representative body Eastern Maar.
The nature of the undisclosed information was confidential but Mr Kennedy said it was only revealed to him the night before the hearing began on Tuesday, three weeks after his team requested it.
He also said it was not disclosed to the Minister.
"That information was not disclosed to the Minister and was not mentioned either in her brief or the reasons she decided to not protect the trees," he said.
Mr Kennedy said he is requesting an independent assessment be carried out by the Commonwealth which directly compares the proposed highway plan with the Northern Option - an alternative route the applicants and activists say will achieve similar safety outcomes at less cost and less destruction of Indigenous sites.
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- Highway protesters claim moratorium on tree removal
- Activists blockade Western Highway duplication at Ararat | Photos
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