20150623 Not if but how improving our approvals process 370x298

Changing the way the governments engage with the community on transport infrastructure projects could achieve better environmental outcomes and avoid cost blow outs.

Coffey Senior Principal Environmental Consultant Kathy Friday will discuss alternative social and environmental approval processes at the Victorian Infrastructure Conference in Melbourne this afternoon.

Kathy said approval processes were traditionally designed to answer two questions: should the project proceed; and, if yes, how should it proceed?

“Government projects usually start the approvals process with the perception that there is a greater likelihood they will proceed,” Kathy said.

“Shifting the consultation process to focus on how the project could be managed – rather than whether it proceeds at all – creates a stronger and more meaningful debate.”

“As a result, this discussion can lead to better outcomes for both the project and the communities it may affect.”

Kathy said now was an ideal time to consider alternative approaches, with planning already underway on major projects such as Melbourne Metro Rail, Level Crossing Removal program and Inland Rail.

The Victorian Infrastructure Conference is currently taking place in Melbourne.