Inner West Independent

Devil’s in the detail of the EIS

BY CHRISTOPHER HARRIS

According to the WestConnex Action Group, the Department of Planning and Environment received over 4,500 submissions in response to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) of the WestConnex project.

City Hub understands that the majority of objections came from community groups opposing the project.

The EIS is 5,000 pages long, and was open for public comment for 55 days.

WestConnex Action Group spokesperson Pauline Lockie said the claims made in the EIS “did not stand up to scrutiny”.

“We knew the Baird Government was desperate to avoid any transparency when it came to the M4 East EIS, and when we went through it, we could see why,” Ms Lockie said.

She said that in the EIS, traffic modelling assumed dedicated bus lanes would be added to Parramatta Road, despite the fact they were not part of the project.

Ms Lockie said that the government had “used a different, made-up project to come up with these figures”.

“No wonder the Baird Government gave the community just 55 days to respond to this EIS, even after hundreds of people called and emailed Planning Minister Rob Stokes to demand more time,” she said.

They are not the only group to have found surprises in the 5,000 page government document.

On October 29, Leichhardt Council held a town hall meeting to discuss the “smoking gun” contained within the voluminous EIS statement.

Independent traffic experts told Leichhardt Council that four key intersections between Haberfield and Leichhardt would be reclassified as an F classification in traffic impact, the worst rating possible.

Leichhardt Labor Mayor Darcy Byrne said that the EIS confirmed the project would turn Parramatta Road “into a carpark”.

“Worse still, this independent analysis shows that the first stage will create the mother of all rat runs through streets in Leichhardt, Haberfield and other inner west suburbs,” Clr Darcy said.

“After all the government’s bluster about WestConnex the truth is now revealed, the first stage is literally a tunnel to a traffic jam,” he said.

Summer Hill MP Jo Haylen said that the cost significantly outweighed the benefits of the project.

“The NSW Government is spending $15 billion on polluting tollway that will only save motorists 6 minutes on their travel times from Parramatta to the CBD,” she said.