After seven weeks of hearings, more than 850 public submissions and thousands of pages of arguments from lawyers, the independent planning panel examining the government’s North Eastlink Toll Road Project has retired to prepare its report on the project’s future.
Through its lawyers, the North East Link Project Authority systematically rejected almost every issue and alternative idea raised during the EES process claiming that the reference design and the proposed management plans represent the best outcome for the state.
Community design solutions need consideration in the development of a final design for the North East Link. I’ve asked the Planning Minister to ensure the needs of the community and their input be incorporated.
Last week we toured businesses in the Bulleen Industrial Zone last week with Manningham Mayor Paula Piccinini to hear concerns over the Environmental Effects Statement process and the current design, which proposes wiping out much of the business zone.
“These small business owners are living in limbo and it’s creating huge stress on them, their businesses, staff and their families.”
We received a response this week from the Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne following Mr Barton’s question in parliament regarding the need to get legal representation to present individual cases on the North East Link Environmental Effects hearings.
The cost of fairly compensating and relocating these business, plus the negative impact of removing a precinct that contributed over $132 million each year to the local community deserved more than the cursory mention in the Environmental Effects Statement.
In Parliament I have asked that the Minister for Planning, who will ultimately sign the project approvals, to assure the public that the North East Link panel hearings will be fair and transparent and that the “lawyering up” by the project managers won’t hijack the process and disadvantage the public.