Moreland takes legal action on East West Link project

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Moreland City Council: Moreland takes legal action on East West Link project. 21 July 2014

We believe the State Government has not followed proper process in its planning of East West Link and want a judge to decide if their process was legal before the State of Victoria is contractually committed to a multi-billion dollar project that will forever change our city.

We did not make this decision lightly. We know every dollar of ratepayers’ money counts. We believe a project of this size and cost – $18 billion of Victorian tax-payers’ money – must be supported by the best possible evidence before it is approved.

The cost of our legal case will be shared with City of Yarra and will be between $100,000 and $300,000.

Potential major impacts to Moreland if East West Link goes ahead

Loss of bicycle network

East West Link construction could mean the Capital City Trail will be unusable for up to four years – the Moreland stretch of this path alone is used by more than 2,500 bike riders per day.

Increased local traffic

After the opening of the Western Ring Road, the 20-year projected increase in local traffic volumes were realised after its first month of operation.

Following the opening of CityLink, traffic volume increases of 38 per cent for Lygon Street and 30 per cent for Melville Road, Brunswick West, were recorded after its first year of operation.

East West Link will increase traffic on our main roads, as well as increase residential ‘rat run’ as drivers seek new routes to avoid tolls. Without the detailed business case, we cannot properly plan to deal with this nor determine the cost of these projects.

Loss of open spaces and sporting facilities

Holbrook Reserve, Brunswick West, will lose its adult cricket playing field. The relocation of lighting alone has an approximate cost of $100,000, and the upgrade to the irrigation to suit a modified playing area is likely to cost $25,000.

We would also lose 92 trees from Holbrook Reserve. The trees are valued at $264,168.60. The cost of the tree and stump removal will cost $328,620. This immediate cost to rate payers if East West Link goes ahead is substantially more than the cost our legal case.

Cuts to our roads, footpaths, transport, library and leisure centres budget

If Council has to accept the additional burden of design, funding and implementation of local traffic management projects triggered by increased traffic flows stemming from East West Link, the priority for badly needed capital works will be significantly compromised.

How we came to this decision

At a meeting on Friday 18 July, Moreland Councillors decided to seek judicial review in the Supreme Court of the Minister for Planning’s decision to approve the initial phase of the East West Link project, as well as the East West Link Assessment Committee’s recommendations.

Like other Melbourne Councils, we presented a formal report detailing our concerns about potential impacts of the East West Link to an independent assessment committee, appointed by Minister for Planning Matthew Guy.

Despite the Minister’s assessment committee accepting our concerns about unacceptable night-time noise and the need to protect Holbrook Reserve, the Minister ignored the findings and approved Stage One of the project without releasing the final business case.

Moreland and other Melbourne Councils have been left in the dark, unable to fully understand the real cost of East West Link and the impact it will have on our community.

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