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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Vanessa & Gary from Alexandria: We want infrastructure that moves people not cars

( Ed: Vanessa Knight and Gary Speechley live in Alexandria, which is close to the proposed St Peters Interchange and Sydney Park. Their suburb is in the thick of the push for development that will bring more residents into inner Sydney. Some developments are well planned but some are not, so there is plenty of work for their local Alexandria Residents’ Action Group to do.  Last year the group put up a great fight to save the heritage Alexandria Hotel. After a huge community campaign, they saved the building but not the hotel itself. Now they are faced with the possibility of 71,000 cars pouring out of  WestCONnex into their already congested suburb. Vanessa and Gary have been at the forefront of those struggles. Below, we have published their strong submission objecting to the New M5 EIS. We asked Gary how why they became involved in the fight to stop WestCONnex.  

Gary :

Vanessa and I got involved in ARAG because we love where we live and want to contribute to our community. We endorse ARAG’s goal of not dictating opinion, but putting information before our residents so that they can formulate their own views on issues and make up their own minds.
We like to be doing something positive and pro-active for the area – the Alexandria Sunday FunDay will be held in Alexandria Park on 20th March from 11am to 3pm.
But we spend most of our time fighting over-development and hare-brained schemes from governments: the sale of ATP; WestCONnex; council amalgamations; pro-developer changes to planning laws (which we helped, through BPN and many other groups, to overthrow); the Central-to-Eveleigh redevelopment; the “privatisation” of the Bankstown railway line; the sale of the Alexandria Hotel; dodgy building certifiers; the Ashmore Estate development; lifts for Redfern and Erskineville stations; adequate bus routes; . . . Sadly, the list is a long one!
We just want government to deliver evidence-based, open and transparent decision-making, and to leave us alone to live our lives normally!!!
WestCONnex is a joke of a project that has no valid business case – despite the spin from government and the redacted text from the “revised” business case. We need alternative proposals to be costed and compared to the purported “benefits” of WestCONnex. $16.8 billion, blowing out more and more each day – WITHOUT considering the unfunded third stage to link the M4, M4 and the Airport – can buy a hell of a lot of public transport, public housing, schools, childcare, hospitals, …
Vanessa and Gary Speechley
Vanessa and Gary Speechley

Here is Vanessa and Gary’s submission to the M5 EIS consultation process which closes at midnight tomorrow January 29th. It provides lots of ideas for other submissions.

Submission

How appropriate that we make this submission on Australia Day.

We strongly object to this project and the entire WestCONnex of which this is part, and ask that you reject this proposal on the basis of this environmental impact statement (EIS). Continue reading

Transport Planning expert Chris Standen identifies major flaws in New M5 EIS – Part One

Chris Standen is a Transport planning and modelling expert.  He has prepared this submission in response to the EIS for the New M5.  His submission will be published in four parts. Standen provides many important reasons for not supporting the project.  Draw on his ideas to prepare you own submission

  1. The EIS does not comply with the Secretary Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARS).
  2. There are major issues with the Traffic and Transport Assessment. There is insufficient information about the modelling inputs, assumptions and methodology for the forecasts to be independently verified. There is no sensitivity analysis of key assumptions.
  3. The social and environmental impacts described in the EIS are unacceptable and far outweigh any benefits of the project. Because of flaws in the modelling, the actual impacts are likely to be even greater than those forecast.
  4. The project does not meet the project objectives.
  5. Many of the project objectives, such as congestion relief, could be met through better management of demand on the existing road network, e.g., through reform of road pricing. The corridor already has an extensive and high capacity road network; there is just too much demand at present for it to operate effectively. Adding more capacity will not lessen this demand; it will only serve to increase it.
  6. A claimed benefit of the project is that daily traffic on the existing M5 East would reduce by 20-40 percent due to the new tolls. If it is acknowledged that tolls alone can be effective in meeting the main project objective (reducing congestion), then what is the rationale for adding more capacity
  7. The project makes little sense from a transport planning and policy perspective. The role of motorways is to allow traffic to circumvent densely populated areas. For radial transport into and out of urban centres, mass transit is more efficient and economical, and has less impact on the human population.
  8. The project is not in the public interest. It will be used by less than 1% of the NSW population each day. The rest of the population will pay dearly in terms of higher traffic impacts, poorer air quality, and state and federal taxes being diverted from public transport and other more worthy causes?
  9. The project has a high financial risk. The flaws and optimistic assumptions in the traffic modelling mean that toll revenue is likely to be significantly lower than forecast. AECOM has a history of providing over-optimistic traffic forecasts for toll roads, resulting in previous financial failures (e.g., Clem7).
  10. The average daily travel time in Sydney has been stable at about 80 minutes per person for decades, while the average trip distance has increased substantially (see graph below). In this time, billions have been spent on tollways. Travellers are spending more than ever on tolls, yet are not spending any less time travelling. Time:Distance travelled StandenThe higher speed of tollways has simply encouraged people to move further from work, drive more, and make longer trips than before, for example, visiting shopping malls instead of local shops. It has made road more attractive than rail for freight.
  11. This predict and provide approach to transport planning has been a failure, and is being abandoned by advanced nations. In a city of 5 million people, we can never provide enough road capacity to enable everyone to live as far from work as they like, and drive wherever and whenever they like in free flowing traffic.

 

The rest of this submission is in four Section. This post covers only the first section which  describes general issues with the EIS, the project and the broader WestConnex scheme (Section 1). The following sections will deals with non-compliances with the SEARs (Section 2), non-compliances with the project objectives (Section 3), and major issues with the Traffic and Transport Assessment (Section 4).  Continue reading

How to make a submission to the New M5 East

The New M5 EIS was published by the NSW Department of planning on November 27, 2015. The end of the exhibition period and the current deadline for submissions is January 29, 2016. Currently the Greens and community campaign groups are pushing for an extension to this deadline which would make it extremely difficult for Councils, groups and individuals to prepare an adequate response to the massive EIS over the Summer holidays. The EIS is massive because there are thousands of potential risks to sustainable transport for Sydney, the health and safety of communities and the survival of species and habitat.

This link tells you how to make a formal submission to the EIS. You will note that the Department promises to publish a list of submitters with their suburb and submission with attachments. In relation to the M4 East EIS this has turned out to be a lie. Despite an explicit undertaking this has not been done. Instead nearly 4000 submissions have been dumped in 60 big PDFs that are not even searchable. The People’s M4 East is currently attempting to get Brent Devine, planner in charge of the M4 EIS to meet this obligation.

If you are making a submission directly to the Department of Planning for the New M5 EIS make sure you include this statement: “I make this submission on the understanding that you will publish a list of submitters including my name, suburb and submission.”

The People’s New M5 EIS will be publishing lots of material that will help you produce your submissions. You can make more than one. MPs and community groups such as the Westconnex Action Group will also be preparing submissions that you can adopt and add your own comments.

We welcome contributions and ideas.  You can send them to wendybacon1@gmail.com. If you have skills in environmental science, transport planning, heritage, community planning, sociology, economics, maths or accountancy, health work, journalism, editing, internet or multimedia production, photography, interviewing, transcribing  or any other relevant occupation or interest, please consider assisting us in reading sections of the EIS and providing summaries of key issues, critical analysis and research.