Eastern Metro MP Rod Barton has raised concerns over early works on the North East Link project going ahead without the promised EES and planning approvals and reiterated the need for community concerns to be taken into consideration.
Last week (October 18) residents in Yallambie received works notification letters advising that CPB Contractors would be undertaking work starting at Borlase Reserve on Monday (October 28).
“Residents have approached my office with grave concerns about the differing advice they have received from the managers of the North East Link Project,” said Mr Barton.
“Many of these people, particularly those near Borlase Reserve, participated in the EES Panel Hearings where they were told that no works would commence until ALL the required approvals are issued by the government.
“Yet days before the recommendations from the expert panel are due to be handed to government works are starting at their front doors,” he said.
The letter to residents described non-destructive “service proving” and investigations, telling residents to expect concrete cutting and small excavations, but no management plans or consultation on work site parking, vehicle access and access to reserve areas has taken place.
“This community has waited patiently for recommendations from the hearing panel which I believe are due to be presented to the Minister this week (October 30).
“They, and I, are hopeful that the panel will take the EES process seriously and that community needs will be considered and reflected in those recommendations,” he said.
“I have asked the Minister why CPB Contractors have commenced works when residents had been told that no works would be undertaken without the necessary and important protections afforded by the EES process.”
Mr Barton presented at the panel hearings in September to support and reiterate the communities concerns about the North East Link project and the haste to bring in the bulldozers.
His recommendation to the panel included:
1. The existing EPA Guidelines be adopted as the mandatory minimum standard in all contracts with a principal contractor accountable for compliance across the site, including management plans with proactive controls and arrangement for compensation to effected area.
2. An independent comparison of the cost of tunneling the entire route compared to the cost of relocating and compensating affected businesses in Bulleen along with speeding up rezoning permissions at Websters Road to provide options for those who can move.
3. Better protection for the green ribbon, including protection of waterways, reducing the amount of vegetation lost and committing to maintaining and upgrading walking and cycle pathways along the Yarra.
4. The inclusion of informal feeder roads at Templestowe Road and Bulleen Road South in the project area to ensure both roads are upgraded to meet increased traffic and controls for future remedies for noise and air quality.
5. Consideration of public transport needs to minimum Hurstbridge line disruptions and place priority on the planning of the proposed busway from Doncaster to the city.
“We have one chance to get this right and it’s up to the Government now to listen to the community and bring them along as planning decisions are made for this vital infrastructure project,” said Mr Barton.
“The community is on board – they want a North East Link – but not at any cost.”