WestConnex public consultation a sham

WestConnex public consultation a sham

The Premier’s consultation process for Stage 3 of her WestConnex scheme is a public relations exercise designed to shroud the project in secrecy because the data behind the project is fundamentally flawed.

A submission from the City of Sydney in response to the Stage 3 M4–M5 Link Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has revealed that:

  • WestConnex will not achieve its stated goals – it does not improve access to Sydney Airport or port facilities or improve access for commuters from Western Sydney. The great majority of people travel to the city centre by public transport, and 90 per cent of people in the west do not travel to the city centre on a regular basis at all
  • WestConnex will increase congestion across the Sydney road network and increase travel times for most road users
  • It exposes communities across inner Sydney to unacceptable health impacts
  • It threatens the economic competitiveness of the Sydney city centre
  • No comprehensive assessment of alternatives has been undertaken as required by the Department of Planning and Environment Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements, and the proposal relies on flawed and severely outdated information
  • It is not financially viable unless the Sydney Gateway, Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link and F6 Extension are constructed – yet no business case, funding commitment or timeline is provided for these other $30 billion of projects.

“The Government’s own data shows only one per cent of daily trips in the Sydney region will gain any benefit from WestConnex, but public money worth billions of dollars is being poured into the project,” the Lord Mayor said.

“It’s not just a bad deal for communities in Sydney, but for everyone in NSW. Questions need to be asked about why this government is so desperate to take on all the financial risk for a project with such minimal benefit for NSW taxpayers?”

The City’s submission shows WestConnex does not provide a ‘missing link’ between the M4 and M5. The M7, A6 and A3 roads already all provide this function but have been ignored in the Government’s EIS.

“The real purpose of the M4–M5 Link is to enable the construction of major tollways to the North Shore, Northern Beaches (Beaches Link) and Southern Suburbs (F6 Extension),” the Lord Mayor said.

“These $30 billion extensions are needed to expand the reach of WestConnex to attract toll-paying drivers to fund stage three, because it does not add up without them. Defying the laws of economics and finance, the Premier is looking to future tolled roads to fund the toll roads she is already building. And to fund those new roads the Premier has already tolled existing roads, and plans to toll more existing roads as the WestConnex tangle grows.

“But this political fix for the Premier comes at a huge price for Sydney – the Link includes a major underground interchange at Rozelle, the scale and complexity of which has never been seen anywhere in the world, and the EIS has insufficient detail on its delivery and impacts.

“What is clear is that the Rozelle Interchange includes numerous tollway portals in one of the most congested parts of Sydney’s road network. It will bring traffic to a standstill on the Anzac Bridge and the western edge of the city centre and severely delay the buses and delivery vehicles needed to keep our city centre functioning.

“It also exposes communities in the area to unacceptable health impacts. The EIS identifies five unfiltered ventilation stacks to be constructed in inner Sydney.

“Children, the elderly and people with chronic disease are particularly at risk, but the EIS fails to fully evaluate the long-term health impacts on everyone in the area including increased mortality, respiratory and cardio-vascular disease.

“We also know that vehicle emissions will be higher around the traffic portals and emission stacks, meaning the so-called ‘recreational spaces’ proposed at St Peters and Rozelle cannot be safely used by the community.

“These are the same emissions that the Premier and other Liberal Ministers have quickly said must be filtered from tunnels in their electorates for the sake of public health, so why are they ignoring those risks and building unfiltered tunnels in our neighbourhoods?

“Government in a democratic system has a responsibility to listen to what the community wants and to respond. This Premier should not continue to ignore what experts and the community are saying.

“Rather than properly assessing impacts or providing genuine consultation, the EIS is focused on achieving planning approvals before the Premier’s sale of 51 per cent of the Sydney Motorways Corporation, who are building the project.

“The process stinks and the project is flawed. All work should immediately be suspended while a proper review takes place.”

For more information, visit cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/vision/changing-urban-precincts/westconnex

For media inquiries or images, contact Media Team Leader Keeley Irvin on 0448 005 718 or kirvin@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, please contact Matt Levinson on 0499 319 385 or mlevinson@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au