Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Exhibition period of 'New M5 WestConnex' EIS must be extended

After the NSW Government waited for Parliament to rise before releasing the ‘New M5 WestConnex’ Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), I have written to the Minister for Planning, Rob Stokes MP, who under part 5.1 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 has carriage of the EIS consultation phase, to request an extension.

I have for months been requesting detailed studies about the impact of flow on traffic from the Minister for Roads Duncan Gay[1] and I now demand that the Government allocates sufficient time for local Councils to do the work that questionable engineering firm AECOM[2] and the Government failed to do in the EIS.

The EIS released by the Government on Friday does not contain any detailed long term traffic studies of the flow on impact of traffic emerging from the St Peters interchange into the suburbs of Mascot, Eastlakes, Kensington, Kingsford, Erskineville and Alexandria, not to mention other areas, such as to the inner city or to the east.

The EIS for instance mentions the widening of Euston Road to six lanes, but does not study the impact that those six lanes worth of additional traffic will have on suburban roads. It doesn’t consider the impact of traffic from the 60,000 new residences in the Green Square Precinct, the University of NSW traffic or even airport traffic.

They’re attempting to bury the EIS under a pile of Christmas wrap and fireworks.

The timing of this report makes the Government’s desire to avoid scrutiny plain as day. Apart from confirming our worst suspicions of this project, the EIS has raised serious questions about the viability of this project.

The Government must extend the exhibition period to allow for detailed analysis by Councils, town planners, traffic engineers and residents. Ultimately the least the Government could do is give people in our Councils, with meaningful qualifications and experience the time necessary to submit a substantive response.

This is what happens when a Government outsources its responsibilities to investment bankers. The WestConnex will be a catastrophe for our local roads. You can download a copy of my letter to the Minister here.

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