I'll be tabling the following motion at the next Inner West Council meeting on Tuesday 13 March following requests made by residents and community groups for Council to conduct its own noise and air quality monitoring of the WestConnex projects.
It's listed as Item 11 on the agenda. If you'd like to come and speak to the motion, you'll need to register by 2pm on Tuesday. Simply complete the short registration form on Council's website.
1. A report be prepared for an Ordinary Council Meeting in April 2018 that:
a) Details the costs and other resources that would be required for Council to monitor noise and air quality in the areas around current and proposed WestConnex construction sites in the Inner West;
b) Reviews and assesses the current noise and air quality monitoring processes being undertaken for the WestConnex projects by the Sydney Motorway Corporation (SMC) and its contractors, the Department of Planning & Environment (DPE), and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA);
c) Identifies any other opportunities that exist for Council to take action to reduce the noise, dust and air pollution residents are being exposed to as a result of WestConnex construction.
2. Council writes urgently to the Premier and relevant Ministers to:
a) Communicate the lack of confidence and trust residents in the Inner West have in the Sydney Motorway Corporation and relevant government agencies to protect them from the severe air quality and noise impacts caused by the WestConnex projects;
b) Explain that Council has been asked by residents and community groups to investigate conducting its own noise and air quality monitoring as a result;
c) Note that responsibility for such monitoring should sit with the state government and its relevant agencies and contractors;
d) Ask that they take urgent action to reduce the unacceptable noise and air quality impacts of the WestConnex projects on residents, and improve the processes responsible for the monitoring and regulatory enforcement of these impacts.
Council has received numerous complaints about excessive construction noise, dust pollution, and other air quality issues caused by the WestConnex projects.
These have been raised with the SMC, DPE, EPA and relevant state government ministers on numerous occasions by Council, residents and community groups, yet the issues have continued.
The response to our community from the SMC’s contractors has been bland assurances that noise, dust and air quality levels are within approved limits, but residents have no way of verifying this. Council has also acknowledged in its submission to the WestConnex Stage 3/M4-M5 Link project that the conditions set for Stages 1 and 2 (the M4 East and New M5 respectively) can lead to residents experiencing unacceptable impacts even if the conditions are not breached.
The understandable frustration, distress and health issues residents have experienced as a result of not having these serious impacts addressed, coupled with a lack of trust in government authorities to “do the right thing” when it comes to WestConnex, have led residents and community groups to ask Council to conduct its own noise and air quality monitoring in order to verify whether incidences of noise or air pollution are indeed within acceptable limits. These appeals have been made at Council’s own public meetings on WestConnex Stage 3 impacts in Haberfield/Ashfield and St Peters, as well as within the WestConnex Community Liaison Forum convened by Council.
For this reason, I am proposing Council produce a report detailing what this would require in terms of financial and other resources to inform Council as to how to move forward in the best interests of affected residents, and to communicate this to our community.
In preparing this motion, I have consulted with Council officers, who have advised this kind of monitoring is likely to require substantial resources. As a result of these discussions, I am also proposing that as part of this report, Council looks at other ways we could achieve the same objective by analysing existing monitoring processes, and identifying areas where Council may be able to advocate more effectively for our residents to reduce WestConnex’s impacts.
Comment from Group Manager Strategic Planning:
As is noted in the background, Council officers have advised that monitoring noise and air quality in the areas around current and proposed WestConnex construction sites would require a substantial budgetary commitment. There is currently no provision made for this work which is currently being carried out by SMC, DPE and EPA. If Council was to take on this work it would potentially duplicate that work.
Council can prepare an overview report on the current processes and the costs and resources that would be required for Council to carry out these activities. This can examine the potential for those processes to be improved. A more detailed report would require a budgetary allocation to be made for expert advice on the issue and would cost approximately $10,000.