The community is outraged at the latest Westconnex developments. Credit: Miska Mandic (Flickr)

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BY TOMMY BOUTROS

The Inner West Council has hit out at the NSW Government’s most recently released Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for WestConnex.

The WestConnex Stage 3 EIS was released only 10 working days after the period for community consultation closed.

The EIS outlines that there will be an increase in pollutant concentrations from automobiles on Victoria Rd, north of the Iron Cove Link and nearby Anzac Bridge as a result of the “general increase in traffic due to population growth and the project at that location”.

Richard Pearson, Administrator of Inner West Council said: “This is a slap in the face to anyone who made the more than 1,500 submissions – people who took the time to raise issues and call for changes on the design. Council itself made a comprehensive and very credible 142-page submission on the Concept Design.”

“I’m disappointed the Government is not interested in looking at these detailed submissions and that options that could improve the proposal or mitigate the impact of the motorway have not been considered,” Mr. Pearson said.

Of most concern to community are five exhaust stacks (approximately 35 metres tall) that will be built around dozens of homes.

Four of these five exhaust stacks will only be around a kilometre apart.

Pauline Lockie, Independent candidate for Inner West Council said: “I think it’s unconscionable that any government can build toxic stacks, when we know how these pollutants affect us as humans, the environment and the impact they have on climate change.”

Jamie Parker, Greens MP for Balmain was also critical of the EIS.
“The government has recently released its rushed-out plan for the next stage of WestConnex – from Haberfield to Rozelle and St Peters – just two weeks after public feedback ended. The plan clearly shows that whole suburbs in the Inner West will be immobilized for years by construction and excavation works. There is no way this sham document should be approved,” he said.
“The government also confirmed they will build three toxic towers that will belch out unfiltered exhaust fumes from thousands of cars onto the residents of Rozelle and surrounding suburbs – an outrageous attack on the health of our children and everyone else,” added Mr Parker.
Council’s detailed submission on the Concept Design called for fundamental redesigns of WestConnex Stage 3 that would improve the project and mitigate impacts on inner west communities.
“Our extensive list of suggestions should have received detailed scrutiny and could have helped improve the project by better managing traffic issues, pollution problems, and even reducing project costs,” Mr Pearson said.

The NSW Government has also announced it will sell a majority stake in the Sydney Motorway Corporation to fund the future development of WestConnex.

The 51 per cent sale of the corporation, set up to ensure the possible completion of the project, will help finance the M4-M5 Link, Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet said in a statement on Wednesday.

Ms Lockie said: “I think part of the rush to sell (51% of the Sydney Motorway Corporation) is definitely designed so that they can push the project through, because at the moment even though they are fairly unaccountable through the Sydney Motorway Company, it is still a government project.”

“Communities are not going to be well served by selling this off so quickly. The reason to sell is obvious in the latest EIS, because the whole thing is based on a concept design, they don’t even have a proper design for this part of the project, the impacts are only indicative,” she said.

“The processes are WestConnex have been completely corrupted from the start, but it is getting beyond a joke now. Trying to sell off over half of a share in the Sydney Motorway Corporation, and the current rush to complete aspects of the project, completely neglects the potential for community consultation,” added Ms Lockie.

Mr Parker MP said: “The science is very clear – the decision this government has made to build this tollway will induce more cars onto the roads, raising carbon emissions, increasing toxic air pollution and contributing to global warming.”

“With this plan, the government will cause serious problems for the people living in our local area – the plan says that WestConnex will actually increase congestion in parts of Mascot, along Frederick Street at Haberfield, Victoria Road north of Iron Cove Bridge, Johnston Street at Annandale and on the Western Distributor,” he said.

Mr. Pearson said that the Council is currently conducting a thorough analysis of the EIS in tandem with its team of experts and would be making a comprehensive submission to Government, with the intent to discover and point out necessary adjustments that should be made.