Last week – on an extremely steamy Thursday (23 January) – community leaders from across the lower North Shore, inner-city and Northern Beaches gathered together to learn more about the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process for the proposed Western Harbour and Beaches Link tunnels.
The meeting was co-hosted by Nortag (Northern Residents Tunnel Action Group), Stop the Tunnels and WEPA, – organisations which have been raising community concerns for several years over the likely environmental impacts of the car tunnel projects on air quality around our streets, unfiltered emission stacks near child-care centres and schools as well as potential damage to our green open spaces, world-famous Middle Harbour waterways and the destruction of biodiverse-rich and much-treasured remnant bushland. As an alternative, community groups have advocated for more environmentally sensitive and efficient public transport options linking Chatswood and northern beaches hubs.
John Moratelli (WEPA) chaired the meeting and introduced our presenter, Belinda Rayment, Senior Outreach Solicitor, Environmental Defenders Office, who provided a comprehensive overview of the EIS process and the role it plays in decision-making about State infrastructure as well as information about how to prepare our submissions in response. She also handled a wide range of questions from attendees at the end of the evening.
The take-home messages from Belinda’s presentation were that we as a community must put in as many submissions as possible to the EIS processes – as groups and as individual citizens. At the same time, we need to keep up a strong level of political lobbying to ensure that our concerns are recognised by decision-makers. The Western Harbour Tunnel EIS is due out any moment (Jan) and the Beaches Link Tunnel EIS should appear mid-year.
A copy of Belinda’s presentation can be accessed here.