WESTCONNEX Action Group slammed today’s decision by NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes to approve the WestCONnex M4 East toll road.
“We’ve always said that the process surrounding WestCONnex have been completely corrupted, and today’s disgraceful decision from Minister Stokes proves that yet again,” said WestCONnex Action Group (WAG) spokesperson Janet Dandy-Ward.
“Construction contracts for this toll road were signed before this approval was even granted, so we knew the process would be a total sham. And the poor quality environmental impact statement (EIS) on which this approval is based reflected that.
“Today’s approval shows once again how the Baird Government is treating the people of NSW with contempt in its attempt to bulldoze the WestCONnex toll road through.
“They’ve refused to acknowledge the huge amounts of evidence from independent experts that showed how the M4 East would worsen traffic congestion and pollution, and destroy our heritage and communities. And the key ‘conditions’ of this approval have been worded in a way that renders them meaningless.
“For example, the traffic modelling in the M4 East EIS assumed bus lanes would be added to Parramatta Rd when these weren’t part of the project. In other words, the Baird Government assessed a made-up project to come up with their figures, despite their legal obligation to assess the real project.
“Even Minister Stokes’s claim that these bus lanes are now a ‘condition’ of the M4 East’s approval is misleading. They don’t have to build them at all if they can suggest an ‘alternative’ that would ‘provide an improved public transport outcome for the area’.
“But this isn’t about bus lanes which may never happen. It’s about why the Baird Government is failing to follow proper planning processes and what special deals lie behind that failure.
“How can Premier Mike Baird and Minister Stokes guarantee that corruption isn’t taking place when everything to do with the $16.8 billion WestCONnex toll road subverts proper planning processes?
“It’s time for Premier Baird to halt the WestCONnex toll road and hold a public inquiry, so we can find out the truth about why his government is trampling over our planning processes and laws in its rush to get this project built,” said Ms Dandy-Ward.
Media contact: Janet Dandy-Ward 0411 633 676, Pauline Lockie 0414 470 106