Introduction to the People’s New M5 EIS.
Many people have expressed concern about the planning processes in NSW, particularly for large infrastructure projects including Westconnex. This website exists to help people take back some control over the planning process. It is independent of any other organisation and is entirely volunteer run and funded.
Our aim was to help people access information needed to understand how the NSW Baird government’s 33 kilometre WestConnex tollway project would affect not just transport options but also the future environment and health of Sydney. The People’s New M5 EIS is part of a broader community campaign to open up public debate about the WestConnex and counter the lack of transparency in decision making that will affect the lives of millions of people in decades to come.
The WestConnex is a single project, to be delivered in separate stages. But it keeps growing extra tunnels about which we have almost no information. This means that while supposed broad benefits of the whole project are proclaimed by the NSW government and Sydney Motorway Corporation, the negative impacts of the whole project are never assessed. It is also worrying that the Sydney Motorway Corporation itself has been taken outside freedom of information laws in NSW which further limit the public’s access to information about the project.
Our first People’s EIS site was the People’s M4 East EIS . The M4 East EIS was published in September 2015 by the NSW Department of Planning as a large PDF document – over 1GB, and nearly 5000 thousands of pages. The community was given only 45 days to submit responses, although this was extended by ten days because of a failure by the WestConnex Delivery Authority to file all the required documents.
Nonetheless, the community generated around 5,000 responses, nearly all of which were opposed to the project.
The EIS for the WestConnex M5 East was submitted to the Department in mid November and released in early December. The exhibition period will finish a day after NSW schools returned on 29/1/2016. This means that Councils, community organisations such as Parents and Citizens Associations of affected schools and members of the public only have until the end of the Summer Holiday period to submit responses. The People’s New M5 EIS considers this to be unacceptable and has joined calls for an extension until the end of February.
Before the project has even been approved, the Baird NSW government has awarded the contract to build the new M5 to a consortium led by CIMIC (previously Leightons). The same company has also been given contracts to build the M4 East. Many people objected about this form of planning in their M4 East submissions.
Many are also concerned that AECOM which was paid $15 million for New M4 EIS report has other commercial contracts in the Westconnex project. A large number of submissions raise concerns about the apparent conflict of interest and the promotional style of the AECOM EIS. A huge amount depends on the traffic modelling for this project but AECOM’s has a poor record of traffic predictions for other projects and parts of its model are not accessible to independent experts
This site will publish an index to the EIS, summaries of some parts of the EIS, commentaries and submissions and news updates about the project. We welcome comments and submissions.
In this way we hope together to break through the daunting amount of data and help the community to build strong individual and group responses.
Your contributions will help build an independent source of information for the community about the project.
All submissions should be published on the NSW Planning website and those who submitted notified that their response has been received. Each submitter should be sent a number so that they can track their submissions and responses to it in the Response to Submissions report. However, this did not happen with the M4 East project. The Department says it is investigating complaints about this failure to follow the process but there has been no response yet.
People’s New M5 EIS is a community group. Many people have contributed to this website including Ben Aveling, Luke Bacon, Wendy Bacon, Henare Degan, Pip Brown, Jacqui Sykes and all the contributors.
The People’s EIS has been submitted to the Department of Planning. It is clear from the massive response to the EIS that the community has a great sense of urgency and community anger about this project. The response period was too short and at the most difficult time of the year for Councils, community groups, schools and individuals.
More submissions will be published on the site soon. We will follow what happens during the rest of the process.
All the contributions to this project need detailed response from Westconnex. We do not consider simple restatements of the EIS to be responses