Four Melbourne councils affected by East West Link to have their say at hearings this week

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Herald Sun: Four Melbourne councils affected by East West Link to have their say at hearings this week. Kylie Adoranti. 3 March 2014.

All four Melbourne councils that the first stage of the East West Link will pass through say they will not support the $8 billion project.

Melbourne, Moonee Valley, Moreland and Yarra councils will have their say on how the proposed road and tunnel will affect their municipalities at public hearings starting this week.

It comes as environment groups hope a proposed Heritage Victoria listing will prevent Royal Park from being “virtually razed’’ by construction of the East West Link.

An independent assessment panel will hear from the four councils and stakeholders at hearings for the next six weeks and will provide advice and feedback to State Planning Minister Matthew Guy.

At the hearing, Melbourne Council will argue for changes to the East West Link project’s design where ramps pass over Ross Straw Field, Parkville, and join CityLink, in the second stage of the development.

The council last year voted six to five against the road and tunnel project and resolved at a meeting that because it did not yet have the relevant data to assess the project, the council did “not support the East West Link project as announced”.

A council report stated that the State Government should scrap the second stage of the East West Link and also provided design alternatives.

Moonee Valley Council Mayor Jan Chantry said the council would tell the assessment panel that Mr Guy should not grant the approvals required for the East West Link project.

Cr Chantry said the project would severely impact on Moonee Valley and surrounding areas including increasing traffic, noise, air pollution and impact Debneys Park and Essendon Community Gardens.

Moreland Council Mayor Lambros Tapinos said the council had a longstanding position for providing better public transport that was at odds with spending money on new road toll-ways.

Cr Tapinos said the East West Link was the “wrong solution to Melbourne’s transport issues.”

Yarra Council plans to tell the panel that the project needed to be scrapped because it would cause traffic and congestion and would suck up money needed to improve public transport.

Linking Melbourne Authority spokeswoman Gemma Boucher said the assessment panel would make recommendations to Mr Guy based on the hearings before the project was approved.

Ms Boucher said the authority would continue to work with councils throughout the planning and future construction of the East West Link.

She said the authority had met frequently with councils in the lead up to the Comprehensive Impact Statement.

Melbourne Council will present its case on March 14, 17 and 18, Moonee Valley Council on March 19-21, Moreland Council on March 27 and Yarra Council will present its case on March 24-26.

The public hearings will be held until April 15 at the Mercure Melbourne Treasury Gardens, 13 Spring St, Melbourne.

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