Harbour tunnel scrutinised

Published:
05/10/2021

Locals and environmental experts have voiced concerns over plans to build a multi-billion-dollar motorway tunnel via Sydney Harbour.

Community groups, marine biologists, scientists, and local councils all stepped up in September to provide testimonial to a NSW parliamentary inquiry analysing the Western Harbour Tunnel project.

Following extensive community campaigning, the inquiry was established by the Legislative Council’s Public Works Committee to examine the business case, costs, environmental impact, governance structure and consultation methods of the project.

Over three hearings held last month, residents and experts shared their concerns that the project could have ‘severe’ ramifications for local children, traffic congestion, and the natural environment.

Larissa Penn, Naremburn local and convenor of the Stop The Tunnels group, told the inquiry there are ‘significant concerns’ for an estimated 20,000 children that would be impacted by the construction and operation of the tunnel.

“The sites that have been chosen for construction are very in close proximity to parks and schools and there's innate risk, like silica risk, but also contamination risks as a lot of these sites are contaminated,” she tells North Shore Living.

“Then there’s the very significant level of construction traffic that is going to be on the roads. Also, the pollution impacts from the stacks feeding from the very long tunnels and the vehicles because of the volume of traffic that's being encouraged through that corridor.”

The inquiry also heard from experts, including Maria Byrne from the Australian Marine Sciences Association, that plans to dredge Middle Harbour to install part of the tunnel could release ‘highly toxic chemicals’ into the water.

Other specialists also sounded the alarm that impacts to groundwater from the placement of dive sites next to contaminated lands could see the water quality of local creeks and streams suffer.

Transport for NSW says strict mitigation measures will be put in place to manage the risks of soil and water contamination from the project.

Author:
Stephanie Aikins, Editor-in-Chief, North Shore Living Magazine

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