Members of WEPA at the rally outside the Premier’s Office at Naremburn in 2018
The spirits of many people in our organisation and the local community generally will have soared this week when they received the news that the Beaches Link Tunnel had finally been cancelled.
WEPA and its members have worked on many fronts since 2018 to oppose the tunnel. At the start, our concerns were focussed on the threat to bushland at Flat Rock Gully which, in conjunction with Tunks Park bushland, is one of the last refuges for small native birds and native mammals in the Willoughby LGA and a superb area where the public can enjoy the last piece of bushland before the concrete and asphalt of the city takes over. The threat to the sandstone coastline, seagrass beds and aquatic wildlife of Middle Harbour also became obvious as further details of the project were revealed.
As we looked more closely at the project it quickly became apparent that it was also economically inefficient and environmentally unsound in a warming climate with its encouragement of more traffic rather than public transport.
WEPA has worked in collaboration with many other people and groups in the community in opposition to the Tunnel – in particular Larissa Penn and the Stop the Tunnel campaign and the indefatigable anti-tunnel campaigner, Kristina Dodds. It also brought us closer to local groups in North Sydney and in the Northern Beaches.
Over the last five years, WEPA’s members have:
- joined rallies outside the Premier’s office
- wrote and lobbied our local Council – which was at first reluctant to comment
- held stalls and meetings to alert the community
- helped gather signatures for Parliamentary petitions
- hosted electoral forums to highlight candidate positions on the project
- written numerous detailed submissions to the then NSW Government on all environmental impacts of the project
- been invited to speak to local school students on geography excursions in Flat Rock Gully
- sought independent engineering advice on alternative public transport projects
- fund-raised for legal advice
- appeared before the Parliamentary Inquiry and;
- last year held our 40th-anniversary picnic at the Gully to demonstrate our continued commitment to its protection.
One of WEPA’s early campaigns was in the 1980s when it lobbied Willoughby City Council to stop dumping rubbish in Flat Rock Gully and to begin its regeneration. We are delighted that the hard efforts of our members over the last five years has contributed once more to the preservation of this precious remnant of bushland and wildlife.
Ongoing support for public transport infrastructure between Frenchs Forest and the interchange at Chatswood to connect to the new metro is still needed – that would really bury the project for good.
It should also be noted that the ongoing work on the Western Harbour Tunnel and Warringah Freeway Upgrade is causing great upheaval, the destruction of trees and parkland and bringing the threat of unfiltered stacks to our schools and suburbs. WEPA will continue to oppose projects such as these which prioritise the car and toll-ways over the well-being of the people of Willoughby and their environment.