A DRILLING operation at the end of a quiet street at Bardwell Park set off alarm bells for residents, who fear an exhaust stack for the new M5 East motorway could be built in their neighbourhood.
State government advice, by way of a leaflet drop, that it was just one of 100 locations along the proposed route where geotechnical investigations would be carried out, did little to ease concerns.
The residents said the ridge above Bardwell Valley, through which nine-kilometre twin tunnels will pass, is a likely place for stacks, and called for the option to be ruled out.
Their gathering at short notice would appear to be a foretaste of what the government can expect as it develops the tunnels from Beverly Hills to St Peters as part of the WestConnex project.
Roads Minister Duncan Gay said this month the exhaust stacks would be placed in the road corridor, but locations had not yet been determined.
Labor candidate for Rockdale, Steve Kamper, accused the government of a "covert operation".
"The Liberals have had four years to develop the concept plans for the M5 duplication and inform the community of the real impact it might have on the communities above the route," he said.
"With only five months until the next election, all they have released is a dotted line on a map."
Mr Gay said there was nothing secret about the drilling.
He, federal Treasurer Joe Hockey and Premier Mike Baird had conducted a major press conference in a park with a drilling rig in the background to illustrate the program of geotechnical tests.
"This is just Labor spin because they have no plan of their own and they hate seeing other people achieving what they can't," he said.
A spokeswoman for the WestConnex Delivery Authority said large sections of the motorway, including the section from Beverly Hills to St Peters, would be built underground, "limiting the local impact on the surface".
"Geotechnical investigations are being carried out to understand the ground conditions along the corridor," she said.
The spokeswoman said the design for the Beverly Hills-St Peters section had not been finalised: "The environmental impact statement is due to go on exhibition after the preferred design is selected next year, which will provide the community with an opportunity to provide feedback on the proposal."
Tony Tiftis, who has just built a house in Moore Street, said he was worried about the visibility of exhaust stacks, and the pollution they would cause.
Tony and Athena Vamianakis, who live in Bardwell Road, were worried about the health impact on their son, who has Down syndrome.
Cathie Miers, a Moore Street resident, said apart from the impact of an exhaust stack, she was concerned at a possible ‘‘cut and fill’’ roadworks operation in the Bardwell Valley parkland.
Kylie, a member of the executive of the Bardwell Park Infants School P&C, said parents were very concerned because the drilling site was 400 metres from their school and 600 metres from Bexley North Public.
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