Following some disturbing reports about ongoing stability and contamination issues at the WestConnex St Peters Interchange 'park', I brought the following motion to the Inner West Council meeting on Tuesday 7 September (originally tabled for 3 August). I'm pleased to say it received unanimous support.
1. Writes to the Premier and relevant Ministers to request that the NSW Government:
a. Conducts an immediate investigation into potential contamination at the site of the WestConnex St Peters Interchange;
b. Retains responsibility for the remediation, ownership and management of the parkland within the Inner West Council local government area, due to the ongoing challenges and financial costs Council would face if it were to take this on;
c. Works with Council to identify an alternative site to provide genuine open space and parkland as compensation for the impact WestConnex has had and continues to have on the surrounding area.
As has been recently reported in The Sydney Morning Herald and City Hub, most of the promised parkland around the WestConnex St Peters Interchange on the Inner West Council side - which was due to open with the M8 motorway a year ago - remains closed to the public, and beset by stability and vegetation growth issues.
The site also shows disturbing signs of insufficient remediation and ongoing contamination from the toxic landfill over which it has been built.
Landfill sites that have not been properly closed can continue to emit emissions for over 50 years. If remediation is not done properly, there can be serious consequences for the immediate environment.
Vegetation growth is a sign that landfill sites have been properly closed. However, plantings at the site have died, and the mound of excavated waste at the southern end of the site has been subject to landslips and erosion. This potentially ongoing contamination must be urgently investigated to protect our community.
The high risk of ongoing contamination and fundamental issues with park’s design also mean Council is likely to inherit a significant and ongoing liability if it were to take responsibility for the ongoing management of the parkland, particularly as Council had no involvement in the development of the site.
The NSW Government should commit to delivering and managing the parkland it had promised the community as compensation for WestConnex, rather than handing our community a liability. And given this open space was supposed to be compensatory, the NSW Government should work with Council to identify a genuinely valuable area that can be delivered as open space for the community that has borne, and will continue to bear, the impact of WestConnex’s construction, pollution, and traffic issues.