On Tuesday 20 November 2018, around 60 WEPA members and members of the local community assembled to hear a range of speakers on the controversial proposal by the NSW Roads and Maritime Services to place a car tunnel construction site on the area around Flat Rock Gully, Naremburn.
WEPA President, Gay Spies, opened proceedings noting that this was the second time in her life that she has had to defend Flat Rock Gully against destruction. She commented on the work of two people: Eric Wilksch, inaugural WEPA President in 1981, and Joan Viner – both of whom had been instrumental in preserving and regenerating this bushland site. She noted Councillor Lynne Saville’s apology for the meeting and commended her for her assistance in the campaign to have Willoughby City Council (WCC) prepare an impact report on the tunnel proposals.
Gay reported that WEPA’s members has been working for some months with Stop the Tunnels campaigners, circulating information online and in newsletters, holding stalls in Castlecrag and at the Henry Lawson Cave at Naremburn. Most recently WEPA members emailed local Councillors and spoke to the WCC General Meeting on 12 November in a successful attempt to have it examine the impacts of the tunnels proposal on residents in the Willoughby LGA. Gay also noted that WEPA has taken over the management of a Government Information Public Access (GIPA) application for the business case for the Beaches Link and Western Harbour tunnel proposals.
Gay urged members and those attending to sign the petition on hand [and available to download from the Stop the Tunnels website], to ‘pin’ ‘I object …’ comments to the online RMS map and to write to the WCC and the Premier on this important issue for the whole area. Useful information on how to quickly complete all of these actions can be found on the Stop the Tunnels website: www.stopthetunnel.org.
Gay then introduced long-standing WEPA member, John Moratelli, who provided a detailed analysis of the potential traffic congestion at Flat Rock Drive and the extent to which the overall proposal would promote traffic congestion in the short to long term. John finished by asserting that “the obvious public transport alternative to the Beaches Link/Western Harbour Tunnel is a high capacity, high speed public transport link along Warringah Rd between Brookvale and the new metro station at Chatswood”.
John’s full address can be read here:
John was followed by Larissa Penn, one of the coordinators for the local Stop the Tunnels campaign who provided further details, particularly on health and pollution risks from construction and ongoing pollution impacts from the permanent stacks.
Paper to follow.
Following discussion the following resolution was moved and carried unanimously by the meeting:
We resolve that we object to the proposed route and construction sites for the Western Harbour Tunnel and Northern Beaches link. We oppose the proposals to either destroy the bushland at Flat Rock Gully or to create a construction site on nearby playing fields. The proposed tunnels introduce unacceptable and ongoing risks to our community in relation to road safety and air, road and noise pollution without addressing the basic causes of traffic congestion on our roads. We would ask Willoughby City Council to relay our concerns to the NSW Government and ask that it halt the Beaches Link/Western Harbour Tunnel project until such time as it has released a business case which considers all transport options including public transport options and consulted with affected communities in relation to that business case.