The North East Link: an introduction
The North East Link (NEL) is a freeway-standard road being built by the Victorian Government. It will link the Metropolitan Ring Road (M80) in Greensborough to the Eastern Freeway at Bulleen Road. The project is jointly funded by the Australian and Victorian governments.
The project continues to be controversial on many grounds and has attracted criticism from community and business interests, local government and transport planning experts. Opposition to the project covers its environmental, social, commercial and economic impacts and the unsubstantiated claims regarding the benefits it will deliver. These issues are discussed in articles posted here.
Go here for some background to the project.
The pieces we publish here will reflect the views of the writer. We publish them here because we want to contribute to the public debate by giving readers access to the discussion around the issues involved. The opinions expressed remain those of the writer; it should not be taken that Eastsider News and ICNG necessarily supports the views expressed.
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Sign the Petition to stop the disastrous NE Link
North East Link Alliance
Doncaster resident Cynthia Pilli has started a petition for local residents concerned that the North East Link freeway construction is inconsistent with environmental sustainability, social amenity and liveability in our area.
Apart from acting as a disincentive for the Andrews government to do anything meaningful about public transport in the area, it will result in increased air and noise pollution, divided communities, the loss of at least 26,000 mature trees including habitat for endangered species and considerable loss of parkland and wetlands due to road widening.
To read more, click here.
The North East Link: A question of traffic noise
Noise can be annoying or disturbing. Over time, if the noise continues or is too loud, it can impact your health and wellbeing, especially when noise disrupts your sleep. The World Health Organisation 2009 (WHO 2009) has reported that night noise above 55 decibels is likely to cause adverse health effect including cardiovascular disease. According to Victoria’s Environment Protection Agency ongoing noise can also cause headaches, increased blood pressure, fatigue, irritability, poorer reading comprehension and attention in children and hearing damage when the noise is loud.
In the light of these concerns, questions are being asked as to whether the objectives Government has adopted for the NE Link are sufficient to protect human health.
The Planning Minister Richard Wynne approved the objective for daytime noise on all parts of the project to be no more than 63 decibels. His initial objective for night-time noise of 55 decibels was subsequently increased to 58 decibels (measured at a building’s ground floor level only) by the NEL Project Team. Authorities claim these noise objectives are based on comprehensive information collection and modelling that mapped existing noise and future conditions.
Design of the information collection studies was compromised by incomplete coverage of important factors and a failure to incorporate established facts and protocols.
In monitoring existing road conditions, information was not collected for known ‘hotspots’. This included the exclusion of noise near overpasses and ramps and other known high noise locations. Aggravating factors such as downwind noise and increased noise at the upper level of building structures were not measured. No account was taken of the finding by the NELP Environment Effects Statement (ESS) that 155 properties would exceed 63 decibels.
The studies failed to fulfil the specific Scoping Requirements set out for the EES, particularly for night-time noise. The Scoping Requirements refer to the 2009 World Health Organisation (WHO) document which recommends 40 decibels for night-time at the upper level of a building. This is well below NELP’s 58 decibels at ground floor only. NSW policy for night-time new roads is 50 decibels or 55 decibels for existing roads, both at the upper level of a building.
Road traffic noise limits were discussed in 2019 at the North East Link Project Inquiry and Advisory Committee (IAC) meetings. The IAC expressed uncertainty and questioned whether ‘… the quoted diurnal difference which has been estimated from actual measurements to date will hold true in the long term, especially as the Project is espoused to be a major freight route. Freight trucks could potentially be drawn to the Project during non-peak times during the night. If traffic volumes during the night-time period are substantially different from existing traffic levels, then the anticipated decrease in night-time noise levels may not occur’.
The claim that most properties would be protected by upgrading existing noise walls, building new high-quality noise walls and applying other approaches such as low-noise road surfaces should also be challenged. Open grade low noise asphalt already exists on the Eastern Freeway and will not contribute to any further improvements. Current advice is that vertical concrete wall systems, that do little to absorb noise, will continue to be used in preference to best practice solutions such as Swiss acoustic noise walls.
North East Link: generation of pollution
Pollution generated by diesel powered vehicles on the proposed North East Link (NELP) has not been adequately addressed by the various authorities involved says Barry Watson. Research by Mr Watson, a resident of the City of Manningham demonstrates that this massive road project will lead to a significant increase in PM2.5 air pollution in the area due to the large volume of diesel trucks expected to use the road.
PM2.5 pollution comprises particulate matter suspended in the air and of a size so small they can get deep into the lungs and into the bloodstream. Exposure over long periods can cause adverse health effects. It mainly comes from motor vehicles, wood burning heaters and industry.
Mr Watson recently spoke to officers of the City of Manningham seeking their assistance for his bid to get Victorian Environment Protection Authority to undertake a SEPP (State Environmental Planning Policy) 12 month impact study. Data of existing fine air particles caused by diesel trucks plus the NELP estimate that truck numbers will increase to 55% have been used to graph the expected pollution levels. This points to levels exceeding World Health Organisation recommended limits and State Environment Policy. This would suggest substantial grounds for undertaking such an impact study.
This item is based on material supplied by Barry Watson.
North East Link. Potential loss of land use on the NE Link Route. Reckless irresponsibility, missed opportunities
Unless action is taken to stop this disastrous project the community will be permanently affected by the loss of many important benefits for our local environment. Existing parkland and sporting facilities including a tennis club and sections of a public golf course will be buried under concrete, wildlife habitat will be destroyed, houses and dozens of existing businesses will be bulldozed, creeks will be barrel drained and communities will be divided.
Once these community assets and beneficial uses are destroyed, they will be gone forever to be replaced by a ‘Los Angeles’ style traffic sewer which will not solve congestion problems.
To read more, please click here.
STOP NE LINK ALLIANCE
Stop NE Link Alliance (SNEL); a group of concerned local residents and affiliated environmental organisations including, Sustainable Cities, a joint arrangement between Friends of the Earth and the Public Transport Users Association; Friends of Banyule, Warringal Conservation Society, Blackburn and District Tree Preservation Society and other like minded organisations
North East Link: its impact on the Ringwood Metropolitan Activity Centre
Philip Daw, President of the Heatherdale Community Action Group (HCAG)
This article comprises extracts from a paper written by Philip Daw, the President of HCAG. The full paper was first published on the HCAG website here: https://hcag.online/home/ on 25 August 2022. Thank you to HCAG for allowing Eastsider News to publish this extract.
There are a number of unresolved issues arising from the North East Link project. The HCAG document, however, focuses on specific issues arising from the North East Link that impact on the Ringwood Metropolitan Activity Center (RMAC), and solutions and timelines needed to address them. To read more, please click here.
More Rail not Roads
At the forthcoming State Election, I will seek to be a candidate in the Warrandyte electorate, standing for ‘More Rail not Roads’. My late husband, Tonu Pilli and I have lived in the Warrandyte District electorate since 1966 and raised four children, now adults. I have consequently witnessed many changes in our community, including those impacting our environment and the health of its community.
To read more, please click here