I was pleased to attend the Friends of Erskineville Westconnex New M5 Public Forum on Wednesday 27 January 2016 at Erskineville Town Hall to hear community concerns.
The capacity crowd of local residents heard from speakers Jude Page, Wendy Bacon, Kathy Calman, local MPs, and City of Sydney Councillors.
Judith Page (below) talked about the health impact of pollution on surrounding communities noting that there is no safe level of pollution. She also advised that filtration does work and the biggest pollution health risk is for people in south western Sydney.
She said that modelling had not considered the impact of toll roads and that Sydney will be one of the most concentrated and tolled cities in the world noting that at least half the people in western Sydney probably won’t be able to afford to use all the toll roads. She urged the crowd to support a call for the Commonwealth Auditor general to conduct an inquiry into the building of the road.
Wendy Bacon (above) talked about the People’s EIS website that contained more details about the construction of WestConnex. She said current WestConnex plans were based on secrecy where information is dribbled out bit by bit. She raised the issue that the company conducting the building of the road had been turned into a private company that was not subject to FOI scrutiny. She also said that the planning process was undemocratic and information released to the public was full of rhetoric.
Kathy Calman (above) is a resident of Beverly Hills/Kingsgrove who has already been through the process of having the M5 built in her backyard. She said the environmental impact of WestConnex outweighs what the benefits might be for the inner southwest which will be highly impacted. She said during the M5 development she lost a lot of friends, parks and when it was finished they were trapped behind noise walls with no landscaping. When the M5 was built, local traffic become worse because the M5 was packed with cars every morning so people looked for other ways around. Residents and the Council used their own money to repair the urban environment. She also highlighted that the EIS has not considered all schools in the area.
Local politicians and City of Sydney Councillors also spoke with people who were urged to make a submission opposing the New M5 St Peters Interchange whose deadline is 29 January 2016.