Marrickville residents and councillors fear the state government’s WestConnex motorway project will threaten the Tempe Reserve and Lands, after ministers refused to guarantee the area would be preserved.
A viaduct from St Peters to Tempe could impact the reserve and wetlands as part of the Taverners Hill to St Peters tunnel, which would connect the new M4 Extension with the Sydney Airport Link.
Patrick McInerney, Tempe resident and Marrickville Citizen of the Year, said the viaduct will be built straight across Tempe Reserve and Lands and will adversely affect the local community.
“It’s going to marginalise the people who live in East Tempe because they’re going to have a 50 foot high, eight lane freeway at one end of their suburb,” he said.
“And then they’re going to have the Princess Highway at the other.”
Mr McInerney explained that the Tempe Wetlands are an important investment made by council, which purify runoff water before it hits the Cooks River.
“It’s a vital part of keeping our waterways clean. Not only that, it’s now become home to some native birds and animals that haven’t been seen in the area for fifty years,” he said.
Marrickville Mayor Jo Haylen said the Tempe Reserve and Lands are an essential open space for a heavily populated, industrialised area of Sydney.
“Marrickville has one of the lowest ratios of open space per person in Sydney and Tempe Reserve represents 16 per cent of council’s open space,” she said.
Ms Haylen recently met with NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay and Planning Minister Brad Hazzard and conveyed the importance of preserving the green space.
“We also discussed the significant capital expenditure that has been invested there, $9 million on Tempe Reserve in the last 10 years and a further $19 million on Tempe Lands,” she said.
Ms Haylen is disappointed that the ministers would not guarantee the preservation of Tempe Reserve and Lands but said they did agree to release a discussion paper.
“Minister Gay told us that he would make the discussion paper available in the immediate future and release the preferred design option for community consultation in June 2014,” she said.
Labor councillor Chris Woods said after a year of planning and consultation on stage one of the WestConnex project, stage two remains nothing more than a line on a map running through Tempe Reserve and Lands.
“Marrickville residents are concerned that we are becoming an afterthought in the motorway planning process and our precious open space and wetlands will be sacrificed,” he said.
Mr Woods pointed out there are other viable options for the route, which would involve similar costs and minimal impact on the reserve and wetlands.
“Local strategies to avoid the Tempe Reserve could include an elevated motorway from the M5 exit over the Giovanni Brunetti Bridge and Shea’s Creek into the proposed tunnel link,” he said.
“[Another option is] a tunnel from the M5 emerging in the lands to the north of the airport.”
A spokesperson for WestConnex Delivery Authority (WDA) said stage two will include a surface and viaduct link to Sydney Airport and community consultations will be taking place.
“WDA is carefully considering a range of impacts, including on green space such as Tempe Wetlands, in developing its designs for stage two of WestConnex,” the spokesperson said.
“The project team looks forward to consulting with the local community on how best to avoid and manage any impacts on this section later this year.”