Residents say M5 East tunnel impact understated

State and federal government road ministers say the location of the western entry and ventilation stack for the new M5 East tunnel will minimise the impact on residents because it adjoins an industrial estate.

That view was not shared by Kingsgrove and Beverly Hills residents who gathered at short notice to "vent" their anger.

Federal Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Jamie Briggs and State Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Duncan Gay said the chosen site was on land adjacent to the Kingsgrove industrial estate, on the southern side of the existing motorway.

They said the three consortia which had been short-listed to build the tunnel from Kingsgrove to St Peters as part of the WestConnex project had all nominated the same location.

West-CON-nex Action Group (WAG) spokeswoman Kathryn Calman said they were "shattered" to learn the site was "right on our doorstep".

"The ministers attempted to paint the announcement as one that minimised the impact on the community," said Ms Calman, a Beverly Hills resident.

"The reality is that Kingsgrove and Beverly Hills are home to thousands of families who will find themselves choking on the massive increase in traffic pollution and congestion.

"There are also nine schools within a two-kilometre radius of that stack, not to mention scores of childcare centres and residential aged care homes. The industrial area has many factory outlets, small warehouses and businesses."

"Duncan Gay says that there will be no changes to air quality next to these stacks.

"But no environmental impact studies have been conducted, and traffic pollution has been linked to cancers, respiratory diseases and irreversible lung damage in children."

Ms Calman said the project should be halted until the full business case was made public and a parliamentary inquiry was held.

But Mr Briggs said the location would minimise the impact on the local community.

"The new M5 will more than double capacity along the existing M5 corridor and provide improved access to the airport, south Sydney and Port Botany precincts," he said.

"The tunnel will be wider, taller and flatter than the existing M5 East tunnel, which means trucks won't have to struggle up a steep incline, reducing vehicle emissions.

"WestConnex will create 10,000 jobs during construction and save up to 30 minutes on an average peak trip between Liverpool and the South Sydney employment area."

Mr Gay said, wherever possible, WestConnex would be underground and in reserved road corridors to reduce impact on local communities.

"The location of the western entry point does not require acquisition of residential properties and we can reassure the community the Wolli Creek bushland will not be affected.

"The new M5 tunnel will re-energise the M5 corridor and extend the benefits motorists are already experiencing on the widened M5 West to the remainder of the motorway."

He said construction would start in mid-2016 and was expected to be completed in 2019.

‘NO EMISSIONS’

 The WestConnex Delivery Authority has previously told the Leader well-designed tunnels do not create emissions, so they do not need filtration.

‘‘The way air is dispersed through a tunnel ventilation outlet means the air is cleaner than standing next to a surface road,’’ a spokeswoman 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 (portals) and the exact number was determined through an environmental 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.’’

Do you agree with the WestConnex project and the location selected for the western entry to the new tunnel?