Wins and losses in public transport campaign
By Jenny Long
SYDNEY — The campaign against the M5 East motorway and its gigantic emissions stack planned for Turella has suffered a setback with the loss of a Supreme Court appeal against a Land and Environment Court decision that the motorway and stack could go ahead despite significant changes to the plan after the environmental impact study (EIS) was completed.
The M5 East EIS proposed three exhaust stacks from the underground motorway which is to go through the Wolli Creek valley. Because of the outcry, the proposal was changed to a single 25-metre-high stack at Turella to disperse the toxic emissions of the 66,000 cars expected to use the motorway each day.
The Residents Against Polluting Stacks pointed out that not only was there no consultation with residents over the change, but that the single stack will concentrate the nitrogen oxides, benzene and fine particles which can cause asthma, cancer, heart disease and leukemia.
The fumes will be spewed into Marrickville, Earlwood, Turella and Bardwell Park in Sydney's inner south-west. A report commissioned by Canterbury Council urged that the stack be unequivocally opposed as an unreasonable and unacceptable threat to community health.
The motorway will also bring a lot more traffic into the area. The Common Cause-No Aircraft Noise party estimates that truck numbers will increase by 60% at the Tempe Cooks River bridge. The motorway, it points out, is part of the expansion of Kingsford Smith Airport.
The issue has caused division on Marrickville Council. In debate around a motion from Common Cause councillors against the M5 East and in favour of a new EIS for the motorway and the stack, Labor councillors supported an EIS for the stack only and lodged a motion to have the issue debated again at the July 19 council meeting. The Common Cause motion was passed.
Labor councillors, led by Mayor Barry Cotter, will also attempt to reverse the council's rejection of support for a second Sydney airport at Badgerys Creek. Common Cause councillor Sylvia Hale pointed out that a second airport at Badgerys Creek is unacceptable as it has never been intended to replace Kingsford Smith Airport and would only increase air traffic into Sydney. Badgerys will be a disaster for people in western Sydney, subjecting them 24-hour operations and noise above 70 decibels.
The campaign against the M5 East is continuing. A "Stop the Stack" rally was held in Tempe on July 18 and on July 3, the Transport Action Group Against Motorways (TAGAM) held a dinner to raise funds for the campaign's broadsheet Hell on Wheels. The dinner was especially memorable for the presence of a chainsaw-wielding Godfrey Bigot, in the role of "public relations man" for the Roads and Traffic Authority.