Marrickville Council has welcomed news that the NSW Government will change the WestConnex route to accommodate community concerns.
The original WestConnex plan was set to impact the Tempe Lands, Tempe Reserve and Tempe Wetlands. Backlash from council and community group Tempe 2020 led the state government to recognise the significance of these areas and announce a revision of the WestConnex plan accordingly.
Marrickville Mayor Jo Haylen expressed her relief at the state government’s response to community concerns.
“This is an important win for the inner west community. Marrickville Council and community groups such as Tempe 2020 have lobbied energetically and persistently that Tempe Lands must be preserved for the local community,” she said.
“It’s a huge relief that the community concerns have been noted.”
The state government and the WestConnex Delivery Authority have agreed the areas involved “have important recreational, environmental, social and economic value” and would therefore begin planning a new route to avoid impacting these areas.
Marrickville Council was informed that exploratory drilling and air quality monitoring for the new route would begin later this month.
This announcement did not involve any specific information about the new route, apart from that it may run underground and north of the Princes Highway.
This announcement, while being welcomed for its reduced impact on Tempe’s environment, has raised concerns about the residents who will be impacted by the alternative route.
Greens Councillor David Leary expressed his concern that the change would mean Tempe and St Peters residents would be negatively impacted.
“It’s great that the Tempe recreation area and wetlands look like being spared from destruction by a motorway overpass, however, the new route raises new concerns for local residents,” he said.
“Exploratory drilling is set to start in Tempe, Sydenham and St Peters, north of the Princes Highway this month. This means they are looking to drill a tunnel under people’s homes in this area.”
“A tunnel under this area means exhaust stacks spewing highly concentrated fumes into the air along the route. It also means a large area will be necessary for any entry-exit portals into the tunnel.”
A WDA spokesperson said the revised route had not been finalised.
The tollway’s impact on residents has been the subject of discontent since its inception.
The WestConnex Delivery Authority have been accused of failing to properly inform residents of the impact of the road on their homes, in one case incorrectly informing residents their homes would be acquired by the NSW Government.
Tempe 2020 Convenor Pat McInerney said he is pleased Tempe Lands will be spared but remains concerned about the impact of the alternative route.
“This is a win that will be cautiously celebrated,” Mr McInerney said.
“We are still getting a road that nobody wants.”
“I would say the inner west more broadly do not want WestConnex to happen and now we have to ask more questions about the stacks and infrastructure for the alternative route.
Mr McInerney also said he feels the state government has botched WestConnex planning to date and will continue to do so.
“I don’t this this government knows what they’re doing,” he said.
“This branch of the government is out of control. I don’t think they have a strong plan for this road. They’ve got a lot of money but they don’t seem to know what to do.”
Mr McInerney said he thinks it is unnecessary to raise concern about the alternative route as yet because he does not think the road will ever become reality.
“I don’t think this road will ever get made. I think it’s a red herring,” he said.
“I don’t think this government could deliver it. They’ve bought houses they no longer need, they’ve put families through huge amounts of stress unnecessarily. I don’t think we will see this road built under the Baird Government, or under any future government.”
“I don’t think there’s anything to worry about because I just don’t think they are capable of delivering this project.”
Mayor Haylen said she would continue to ensure that residents were not adversely affected by the tollway.
“My number one commitment is always to our residents and I have consistently worked with all Councillors to fight to protect the interests of the community,” she said.
“I remain highly concerned about any adverse impacts of the proposal on local residents and will continue to campaign vigorously for the best outcomes for all our community.”