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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Why I object to #WestCONnex : Dr Victor Storm of Haberfield to NSW Planning Department

( Ed: Dr Victor Storm  is a psychiatrist who has spent much of his life living and working in the Inner West.  He now lives in Haberfield, in the heart of a community where many are losing their homes or will be badly affect by the M4 East. People’s M4 EIS published his submission to the M4 East EIS. This project is still being assessed by the Department of Planning.  Victor Storm objects to the whole WestCONnex. His submission to the M5 EIS took the form of a letter to the Secretary of the Department Carolyn McNally.) .

Ms C McNally

Secretary,

Department of Planning and Environment

re: WestConnex New M5 EIS, project number SSI 14_6788

I 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).

I object to the fact that the process and rationale for Westconnex has been constructed after the fact. This is the core problem. Someone had a thought bubble and managed to convince a number of others that building Westconnex was the solution to Sydney’s transport woes.

Victor Storm speaking at Uprooted
Victor Storm speaking at Stop WestCONnex Uprooted Rally in 2015

A new Federal government with a desire to be seen to be in action and state government wishing to be seen as open for business were caressed and conned by large engineering firms desperately seeking work as state sponsored finances shrank in Europe & Asia. A $10 Billion project has grown to $17 Billion & is yet to include costs for the links to the port & airport, so the prediction of $20 Billion price tag does not seem far-fetched. This demonstrates that the politics of the process jumped ahead of the planning logic.

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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

Part 3 Chris Standen : Forty reasons why Westconnex fails to meet objectives

(Ed.: This is part three of a submission to the New M5 EIS process by Chris Standen, a transport modeller and specialist. Read Part One and Two.) 

Westconnex has key objectives that the whole project is supposed to meet.

The stated objectives for the project were contrived to fit the project after it had already been announced. In a democratic strategic planning process, objectives are set first based on the needs and desires of the community, and then alternative projects/policies are appraised against their ability to meet those objectives.

Westconnex’s stated objectives have no associated targets by which their achievement can be ever be determined. For example, how can it ever be determined if the objective to “maintain regional air quality” has been met?

Objectives/targets need to be:

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Achievable
  4. Relevant
  5. Time-bound

Even though the objectives of Westconnex have been contrived to fit the project, the project still does not meet them.

Each objective below is accompanied by an explanation of why the project does NOT meet that objective. ( Ed: We counted them and there are 40) 

  1. Support Sydney’s long-term economic growth through improved motorway access and connections linking Sydney’s international gateways and south-western Sydney and places of business across the city. 
  • There is already an extensive and high–capacity road and motorway network linking Sydney’s international gateways (Sydney Airport and Port Botany), Western Sydney and places of business across the city. The operation of this network could be improved significantly with demand management such as road pricing reform. There is no need for costly and destructive new motorways.
  • The most efficient and economical way to link large trip generators is with mass transit. A single motorway lane can transport only 2000 passengers per hour, under ideal conditions. A single railway line can transport 20,000 passengers per hour.

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Westconnex threatens few surviving Green and Golden Bell Frogs at Arncliffe

 ( Ed: This piece is by scientist Grant Webster.  He writes that the EIS underestimates the negative biodiversity impacts of the New M5. As Grant informed the Federal Department of Environment last year, he has photographed a Green and Golden Bell Frog breeding event on the Kogarah Golf course, a large part of which will be taken over by Westconnex for a massive construction site for the New M5.  Many hoped that the Federal government would refuse consent for WestCONnex to occupy the site which is home to what is probably one of only two colonies of Green and Golden Bell frogs in Sydney but instead the Federal Minister Greg Hunt delegated the decision to the NSW Department of Planning. You would have assumed the consultants would have contacted Webster or at least read his submission. The People’s EIS finds it disturbing that the consultants who prepared the EIS seem to have ignored the photographed breeding event. You can read the Biodiversity EIS study in Vol. 2h Appendix S  

The new M5 (WestCONnex) EIS makes it clear, there will be unavoidable serious impacts to the endangered Green and Golden Bell Frog (Litoria aurea) and the critically endangered community Cooks River Castlereagh Ironbark Forest, if the road is to go ahead.

 Green and Golden Bell Frog threatened

The Green and Golden Bell Frog was once one of the most common frog species found on the east coast of New South Wales and it was once abundant in the swampy eastern suburbs of Sydney.

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