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Dredging stalls awaiting Garrett decision

<p>Melbourne’s channel deepening project has run into choppy legal waters again, while the <em>Age</em> has splashed comments from transport and shipping identities across its front page yesterday and today (Thursday, November 31).</p> <p>Yesterday, Port of Melbourne Corp (PoMC) chief executive Stephen Bradford said the start of dredging was likely to be after tomorrow’s schedule as the port and the State Government awaited Federal environment minister Peter Garrett’s final approval of the environmental protection plan. </p> <p>Each day’s delay will cost the project $250,000.</p> <p>In the Federal Court, project opponents won the right to challenge Mr Garrett’s go-ahead last months for the project, with a hearing set for February 20.</p> <p>Dredging can still start within 24 hours unless an injunction is granted.</p> <p>The <em>Age</em> &#8211 which is viewed by the State Government, the PoMC and others as running a campaign against the project &#8211 led yesterday’s and today’s editions with comments from ANL chief executive John Lines and rail expert Tim Fischer.</p> <p>Neither men opposed the project but Mr Lines was quoted as saying: "My personal point of view is that the best way forward would have been to shift the international trade to Webb and bring the smaller ships up the river to Swanson (Dock) so you don’t have to disturb the sediment."</p> <p>Mr Fischer’s main concern was with the rail linkages.</p> <p>"I would not ditch the dredging but if I was a Melburnite, I would be demanding an absolutely adequate rail connection to Webb Dock, and Swanson Dock," he said. </p> <p>"And I would also be demanding bringing forward Hastings."</p> <p>On radio, ports minister Tim Pallas said rail linkages and work towards making Hastings a container port a reality, were all being attended to.</p> <br />