WestCONnex gift to Beverly Hills – lower noise walls and traffic congestion

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment received more than 12,000 submissions from members of the the public and community organisations in response to the WestCONnex New M5 tollway proposal. 99.91% of these submissions objected to the project. The People’s M5 EIS team could only find one submission that supported the project.  Ten submissions  raised concerns rather than outright objecting to the New M5.

Hundreds of residents living in the Kingsgrove and Beverly Hills area were among those opposed to the project.

Many of these residents have been living near the old M5 for 15 years. They know from experience that living near a motorway is nothing like the glossy images produced by the WestCONnex graphics team. If the New M5 goes ahead, 0thers would live close to a new unfiltered ventilation stack and tunnel opening proposed at Kingsgrove; or near the Beverly Grove Park that is going to be carved up by WestCONnex, along with most of a critically endangered remnant of Cooks River Ironbark Forest.

There are many more residents living along Stoney Creek, Forest and Bexley Roads who don’t know yet that if the new tollway goes ahead the plan is for their environment to be more congested and more polluted. This is documented in AECOM’s New M5 EIS although most residents have not yet been informed of these impacts. ( We will come back to this in a later post.)

What most people don’t know is that WestCONnex has already been given approval by the NSW Baird government to begin widening the intersection at King Georges Road and the existing M5. This project, which is known as the King Georges Interchange Upgrade, is massively disrupting the lives of residents, some of whom have watched with dismay as vegetation and parks that slowly grew after the M5 sliced up their neighbourhood are torn down by WestCONnex.

The King Georges Interchange project doesn’t make the WestCONnex’s Stage 2 New M5 tunnel inevitable but what it does do is provide an excellent place to start if you want to understand some of the key arguments against the WestCONnex. It  also provides a strong warning against trusting promises by Sydney Motorway Corporation (WestCONnex) or the Department of Planning of future mitigation of the worst impacts of motorways.

NSW Premier Mike Baird recently told the Sydney Morning Herald that some “displacement” and “loss of green space” is an unfortunate consequence of building  ‘infrastructure” to cater for future growth …otherwise the city will come to a halt.”

The problem with Baird’s argument is that there is lots of evidence that the WestCONnex won’t solve traffic congestion. Yes, residents would suffer both during the construction and operation of WestCONnex, but no, traffic congestion will not be solved. In some suburbs it will be worse.

You will notice that Baird also made no mention of the consequences of increased air pollution and noise for those living near congested roads. Continue reading

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Clover Moore speaks her mind on ‘disruptive’ WestCONnex

People’s M5 EIS editor Wendy Bacon reports:

‘Stop Westconnex’ flags fly from City of Sydney poles in Newtown

City of Sydney’s “Save Newtown Stop WestCONnex flags” have appeared in King Street, Newtown, just in time for the Easter crowds. As thousands of visitors  from outside the Inner West flow into the famous street, the City of Sydney Council and local campaigners hope they will take the message home.

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This is just the latest sign that City of Sydney, Newtown Business Precinct and Save Newtown Westconnex Action Group (WAG)are continuing to campaign hard against the Baird government’s WestCONnex tollways that will dump thousands more cars into already congested local roads. They’re not convinced by a promise made by Minister for Roads Duncan Gay that however bad the congestion gets, clearways that would  kill off businesses and street life will not be created on King Street.

There is no doubt that the NSW government is troubled by the scale of the campaign in Newtown. WestCONnex has recently indicated that it may also consider plans for a new ‘Gateway’ to steer cars away from King Steet. But this would only happen after the NSW Planning Department has approved the New M5 and would not form part of the current project.

WestCONnex opponents are sceptical of these suggestions. They are at best only promises aimed at deflecting WestCONnex critics. They know from experience that when traffic is pushed onto other local roads,  it usually finds its way back back to its original destination. The main problem is that rather than solve traffic congestion, WestCONnex will dump more cars on many roads in Inner Sydney.

Disruptive WestCONnex

This week was also the Green Cities Conference – celebrating ‘disruptive ideas’.

Disruptive Ideas

Of course there could be nothing more disruptive that a massive motorway carving through our suburbs but that wasn’t a topic that found favour with the conference program organisers. You would think the biggest transport infrastructure project in Australia’s history might have been on the agenda but while many planners privately acknowledge that WestCONnex is a poor idea, most prefer to play safely by keeping quiet. But City of Sydney’s Mayor Clover Moore was not going to let the conference pass without a little disruption of her own. Continue reading

Part 2 Chris Standen: New M5 EIS fails to meet requirements

(Ed: The New M5 is being assessed under State Significant provisions of the NSW Environment, Planning and Assessment Act. Under this law, the Department prepares  the Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs). You can read a full copy of the SEARS here.

This is the second part of  Transport planning and modelling specialist Chris Standen’s  four part submission. In this part, Standen analyses the SEARS and finds the EIS does not meet a number of requirements. It’s worth noting that some local Councils and other experts agreed with Standen that the M4 EIS requirements were not met by the Westconnex EIS.  The failure to meet requirements should be a serious matter that if allowed to pass without examination undermines the entire assessment process. No decision has been made on the M4 East project yet.

( If you have missed the first part of his submission, read it here.)  

The submission has been presented by the People’s M5 EIS is a format that suits wordpress. The full submission will be uploaded later on the People’s M4 EIS. You can use this and other submissions on the People’s M5 EIS to develop your own response. 

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SEARS

Alternatives

The SEARS provide for  an analysis of feasible alternatives to the carrying out of the proposal and proposal justification, including:

  • an analysis of alternatives/options considered, having regard to the proposal objectives (including an assessment of the environmental costs and benefits of the proposal relative to alternatives and the consequences of not carrying out the proposal), and whether or not the proposal is in the public interest,
  • justification for the preferred proposal taking into consideration the objects of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979,
  • details of the alternative ventilation options considered during the tunnel design to meet the air quality criteria for the proposal,
  • details of the short-listed route and tunnel options from the tender process and the criteria that was considered in the selection of the preferred route and tunnel design, and staging of the proposal and the broader WestConnex scheme, and in particular access to Sydney Airport and Port Botany and improved freight efficiencies.

Standen’s finding: FAIL 

Comment: The EIS does not include cost-benefit analysis, modelling, or any other objective analysis of feasible alternatives. Only cursory descriptions are provided.

No alternative staging strategies are described or objectively assessed. Continue reading

Beverly Hills resident rejects WestCONnex impacts on South West Sydney

By Kathy Calman, spokesperson for the Beverly Hills/Kingsgrove WestCONnex Action Group

For those of you who are not familiar with our suburbs, the communities of Beverly Hills, Kingsgrove, Bexley North, Earlwood and Arncliffe lived through years of construction for the first M5 circa 2001, (Legacy M5).

The legacy M5 resulted in a ‘Berlin Wall’ effect that separated our community into two. The North and South sides.  It also had a devastating impact on residents in regards to pollution. Turrella and Earlwood, with an unfiltered exhaust stack, and Bexley North and Arncliffe with tunnel portals (openings).

Homes, the trees and parks taken. Years of construction, and then, to thank us for our endurance, we were handed cheap, visually divisive noise walls and poor urban design.   The urban design and landscaping was of such a poor standard that Allambee Crescent Nth Beverly Hills actually features in the RMS Landscape and Design Principles as an excellent example of what NOT to do.

Allambee Crescent Nth Beverly Hills circa 2015.

Screenshot from the RMS Urban Landscape Design Principles
Screenshot from the RMS Urban Landscape Design Principles
The noise wall is visually divisive and bears no contextual relationship to the setting in this residential area on the Northern side of the M5 East
The noise wall is visually divisive and bears no contextual relationship to the setting in this residential area on the Northern side of the M5 East

It is a credit to Council and a few residents of these communities that they took the repair of our environment into our own hands.  We had no choice because the RMS would not.

“Landscaping” by the Community & Canterbury Council – maturing growth circa 2015.
“Landscaping” by the Community & Canterbury Council – maturing growth circa 2015

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The M5 turned out to be a noisy congested old fashioned solution to traffic congestion. But the NSW government has learned nothing. Again last year we found ourselves faced with new projects.  Firstly there was the expansion of the King Georges Road Interchange and now a duplicate of the old failed M5 – call the New M5

Continue reading

Vol-1A Chapter-02 Assessment-process

Previous chapter: Vol 1A Chapter 01 Introduction

Vol 1A Chapter 02 Assessment process

Pdf: New M5 EIS Vol 1A Chapter 02 Assessment process.pdf

Section Pages
2 Assessment process 2-1
2.1 Approval framework 2-1
2.2 Environmental planning instruments 2-5
2.3 Other NSW legislation 2-6
2.4 Commonwealth legislation 2-7

Next chapter: Vol 1A Chapter 03 Strategic context and project need