Battle heats up to Save Sydney Park trees

Protesters tried to block contractors wanting to chop down trees at Sydney Park on October 7. Photo: WestConnex Action Group

The battle over the controversial $18 billion WestConnex tollway project through the inner-western suburbs is heating up.

The Sydney Motorway Corporation has been granted conditional approval by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment to commence work in Sydney Park, meaning dozens of trees are set for removal.

On October 7, police forcibly removed protesters who were sitting in front of trucks ready to knock down an initial group of trees in the park. About 100 chanting demonstrators gathered at the fenced-off site on Euston Road, St Peters, but were unable to prevent the truck's entry.

The nearby camp is being maintained by volunteers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. An emergency alert text list has been established to mobilise supporters when WestConnex management sends in workers to cut down the trees, the habitat of rare birds such as the tawny frogmouth.

Thousands joined the Save Sydney Park Festival on October 1 to support the protest camp and the campaign to stop the tollway. Reclaim the Streets (RTS) and WestCONnex Action Group (WAG) organised the five-hour music festival, which featured local acts playing everything from Chicago house to British garage, hip hop, jungle and drum and bass.

“The Save Sydney Park Festival was organised in just eight days”, Ivan Crozier said on October 2. “Such a huge show of support ... shows how angry people are about WestConnex and how sick they are of [Premier] Mike Baird selling us out to his toll road mates.

“Our community is willing to do what it takes to stop Casino Mike destroying Sydney Park and St Peters and ‘replacing’ these losses with the world’s worst park: some green space next to WestConnex’s unfiltered pollution stacks, flyovers and six-lane highways”, said WAG spokesperson Vince Polito.

“Mike Baird is wasting billions on WestConnex while our regional roads, schools and hospitals suffer. [But he] is no longer Teflon Mike: his plummeting approval ratings show the mud from WestConnex is starting to stick.”

The protesters want Baird to halt WestConnex and hold a parliamentary inquiry into how this disastrous project got so far.

[For more information go to WestConnex Action Group.]

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