Inner West Independent

Inner West unites against the Western Harbour Tunnel

The Inner West has met in a public meeting to discuss their issues with the Western Harbour Tunnel project. Photo: John Holland.

By DANIEL LO SURDO

After councillors moved a Mayoral Minute opposing the Western Harbour Tunnel, the Inner West community has voiced their opposition to the contentious state-led development in a public meeting on Thursday night.

Earlier this month, Inner West Mayor Rochelle Porteous tabled a Mayoral Minute that requested council seek a meeting with Minister for Transport Rob Stokes to discuss “the urgent need for a comprehensive health study on the documented impacts” of the project and bring a report to the first meeting of February 2022 providing a “project proposal and costings for a comprehensive assessment on the cumulative impacts” of infrastructure projects in the Inner West.

Two days later, Inner West Council hosted the ‘Stop the Western Harbour Tunnel’ public meeting, where councillors and infrastructure experts discussed the key issues of the proposal, which would link the Warringah Freeway in Cammeray to the Rozelle Interchange.

“We have, literally at our doorstep, the threat of the Western Harbour Tunnel,” Cr Porteous said at the public meeting.

“[It] really brings no benefits to our local area and significant negative impacts. The consultation has been very poor all the way through and the process has been very poor as well.”

A Lingering Issue

In September, Cr Porteous told a Parliamentary Inquiry that the Western Harbour Tunnel could render the reopened Dawn Fraser Baths unusable, citing concerns with the toxic plumes from contaminated sediment escaping into the harbour and impacting “dog walkers, fishers and swimmers”.

A Transport for NSW spokesperson refuted the contamination of harbour pools in March, telling the Independent that, even in the worst-case scenario, water quality won’t be impacted.

In the State Government’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the excavation for the tunnel will involve approximately 1 million cubic metres of sediment, 142,500 cubic metres of which is understood to be contaminated.

“The EIS also failed to carry out any investigation for the 18 sites that they recognised as potentially contaminated on the onshore part of the EIS,” Dr Bill Ryall, an expert on assessment and remediation of contaminated land and an Inner West local, said at the meeting.

“How can you possibly assess the impact … if you haven’t done the assessment?”

Council was also opposed to the construction impacts, the use of the Balmain Tigers site in Rozelle, and the multi-year closure of Yurulbin Point.

The impact of public health, including noise, vibration, night works, air quality and fatigue was also marked by council and comes while residents near the Rozelle Interchange continue to flag their discontent with construction taking place beneath their homes.

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