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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Janet’s Westconnex Journey – “we’re fighting to save the community we love”

Sydney Park Photo
Janet, Michael and their son, Fred in Sydney Park – 14,000 square metres of which will be taken by WestCONnex. Photo by Martin Brady

( Ed: Janet Dandy-Ward is a founder and key member of the WestCONnex Action Group WAG). She lives in Roberts Street St Peters, a suburb that will be devastated by WestCONnex . She is a friendly and familiar figure in the streets of St Peters, Newtown and in Sydney Park, squeezing the organisation of weekend campaigning stalls  into her busy life.  In this edited version of her submission to the New M5 EIS she describes why she is fighting WestCONnex and her observations of the planning process and impacts the project will have on her community and the rest of Sydney. You can help the WAG campaign by using their site to send your own submission to NSW Planning or go direct to NSW Planning site.  These will be open until midnight Jan. 29.)

My husband and I emigrated to Australia in 2011 (leaving all our family back in the UK) and we moved into this house in Roberts Street deciding that it could be a base whilst we think about what area we might want to move to. We fell in love with the street, our neighbours, our community, the community pre-school and our surrounding green spaces such as Sydney Park, Tilman and Simpson Park – all will be affected by WestCONnex. Incidentally, the neighbour I mention above is like a surrogate grandparent to our son. It is likely that she and her 80 year old husband will move from the street if this project goes ahead.

We have decided that St Peters is where we want to live and have already invested so much in the community – this is something that is worth fighting for; for my family, for our neighbours who are potentially losing their homes due to forced acquisitions, for those older and vulnerable residents who are now feeling uncertain about their future in this and other suburbs. Sydney deserves better.

As a social worker, I have a deep sense of social justice. I believe that this project will not meet its key objectives including reducing traffic congestion. This is a fundamental flaw. The social and environmental impacts briefly described in the EIS are unacceptable and far outweigh any benefits of the project. There are so many aspects of the traffic modelling that as a mum and a full time trainer in a large children’s charity, I have not had time to address in my submission. I have read the research about traffic inducement and I firmly believe that if you build more roads then more traffic will come, I saw this back in the UK with the development of the M25 London Orbital Motorway. Continue reading

Emma’s story : From my backyard to bigger picture

Behind all the masses of technical data, uncertainty and complexity, there are people and communities. Nicole Gooch interviewed Emma Pierce who lives in St Peters, not far from what Westconnex wants to turn into a massive tollway interchange.

Frankie and Thalia, 5, have grown up attending pre-school together. They played in the school playground most days when their older sibings were being picked up from school.The little girls were excited to be starting school together this year but their friendship is just one of many that has been cut short by Westconnex.

Instead, the community of St Peters is being torn apart as families, including Thalia’s , are forced to leave to make way for the Westconnex tollway.

Frankie’s mother, Emma Pierce, is a special education consultant and researcher. The family also have a nine-year-old daughter, and have lived in the same cul de sac for eight years. Emma, eloquent and energetic, says they felt “pretty fortunate” to be living in an “amazing little community”.

But if the Westconnex New M5 goes ahead, their front door will be 200 metres away from a Los Angeles style motorway interchange, and about 150m away from an unfiltered toxic emissions stack near the end of the New M5 tunnel.

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Frankie and Thalia were looking forward to going to school together until Thalia’s famly was forced out of St Peters by Westconnex

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Artist Wendy Sharpe: Westconnex, a whole of Sydney problem, not just for Inner West

One of Australia’s best known and celebrated female artists Wendy Sharpe lives in Erskineville in inner Sydney not far from her studio in St Peters, the suburb that will be most devastated by WestCONnex’s giant interchange at the end of Sydney Park.

Wendy bought her warehouse studio in 2002 because the old industrial area is one of the last places where there are small warehouses. It’s also not far from her home in Erskineville. If the New M5 goes ahead, Erskineville, which provides a through route between Alexandria to King St Newtown,  will be hit by even more traffic and pollution.

Wendy is currently overseas but before she left, the People’s New M5 EIS asked her how she was affected by Westconnex’s proposals. She told us that initially she was told her St Peters studio could be forcibly acquired. This was a blow not just to her but the whole neighbourhood where small affordable warehouses enabled an “enormous  concentration  of artists, musicians,designers and other creative businesses and is a short walk from vibrant King Street.”

Artist Wendy Sharpe in her inner west studio.
Artist Wendy Sharpe in her inner west studio.

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Traffic and Transport Construction Impacts of New M5 – Summary of AECOM’s EIS

Ploughing through the whole EIS can be time consuming and tedious as there is so much repetition in the Westconnex EIS documents.

Researcher Anthony McCosker has provided us with a summary of the construction impacts as set out in New M5 EIS Appendix G on Traffic and Transport which consists of 298 pages.

This post should  be read in conjunction with Anthony McClosker’s comment on this section.

Later, we will provide a summary of the information in the EIS relating to the operation of the WestConnex project (note that some information deemed relevant to both summaries will cross over and be repeated or revisited).

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