Meeting condemns WestConnex project

WestCONnex or what: an anti WestConnex meeting at Kingsgrove.
WestCONnex or what: an anti WestConnex meeting at Kingsgrove.

SOUTH-WEST Sydney residents say they are preparing to fight hard to stop the WestConnex road project.

They fear pollution from unfiltered stacks, toll roads and worsening traffic conditions, and destruction of green space — as well as government secrecy.

They want the project stopped and its business case released so it can be properly analysed.

At a community meeting last Tuesday night (June 9) at the Kingsgrove Parish Hall more than 150 residents queued to sign a petition to Parliament protesting the project they have renamed "West-CON-nex".

They represent 10 anti-WestConnex action groups from across the project's route.

The evening marked the official launch of the Stop West-CON-nex petition.

WestConnex Action Group Beverley Hills organiser Kathryn Calman said the local community was deeply concerned and wanted an immediate halt to plans..

Contrary plans: The existing WestConnex route.

Contrary plans: The existing WestConnex route.

"We expected around 40 people but were left scrambling for seats when more than 150 packed the hall," Ms Calman said.

"Given that the average age of the residents at this meeting was around 65, it was proof that these concerns are very real, and hardly just the so-called latte-sipping inner city residents that the minister pretends are the sole opposition to this toll road.

"We are working with communities across Sydney to stop this $15 billion polluting tollway, and we demand better for our city's transport needs."

Ms Calman said the fact that people were queueing to sign this petition showed strong feelings against WestConnex as a project that threatened the quality of life and amenity of the suburbs.

"We now have a broad group of people who are well informed about the impacts of WestConnex, and are ready to take a stand against it," she said.

The meeting was attended by several politicians including Kogarah MP Chris Minns.

Mr Minns said he was disappointed that no MPs from the Liberal Party had attended.

"Judging by the meeting it was clear that the community feels ignored by the WestConnex Delivery Agency," he said.

"Information from the agency is vague and reluctantly shared, and is leading to confusion and anxiety from residents.

"I made it clear that while I would fight for filtration of the stacks and push the government to replace trees, avoid destroying natural wilderness and replace bike paths and playing equipment, I do not support abandoning the duplication of the M5 — cars don't fly and the road at the moment is a car park."

WESTCONNEX RESPONSE

A spokeswoman said that well-designed tunnels did not create emissions, so they did not need filtration systems.

‘‘The way air is dispersed through a tunnel ventilation outlet means the air is cleaner than standing next to a surface road,’’ she said.

‘‘Ventilation systems dilute tunnel air and disperse emissions high into the atmosphere where they are diluted with fresh air.’’

The spokeswoman said that total motor vehicle emissions had significantly fallen over the past 20 years as a result of the vast improvements in fuel quality and better engine designs for motor vehicles and trucks.

‘‘Good tunnel design — having tunnels that are wider, flatter and higher — combined with cleaner cars and fuels and effective tunnel ventilation systems, means filtration is not required.’’

She said WestConnex was meeting world’s best practice in designing ventilation outlets, and the tunnels would meet the NSW Environment Protection Authority’s strict guidelines on air quality.

The ventilation outlets were generally located at the start and end of tunnels (the portals) and the exact number was determined through a robust environment impact statement (EIS) process displayed for community feedback.

‘‘The EIS for the new M5 from Beverly Hills to St Peters will be on display in the coming months.’’

More than 50 per cent of WestConnex would be built in underground tunnels to minimise impacts on green space and property acquisition, she said.

‘‘WestConnex will give local streets back to the local community by reducing truck movements through Lidcombe, Chullora, Bankstown and Riverwood in the mornings, and Greenacre and Punchbowl in the afternoon.

‘‘In 2031, with WestConnex, motorists will save 65 minutes on a peak-hour return journey between Liverpool and the south Sydney employment area. WestConnex will also help tackle congestion and increase productivity.’’

A petition can be downloaded at westconnexactiongroup.org.au

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