East West Link jury has returned its verdict

Press Release: Residents Against the Tunnel (RATs): East West Link jury has returned its verdict – Release the report……..and then go back to the drawing board. (30 May 2014)

Planning Minister Matthew Guy was today due to receive the report of the Assessment Committee on the Comprehensive Impact Statement (CIS) for the proposed East West Link Stage 1.

RATs (Residents Against the Tunnel) call for the full report to be released immediately. The Minister has 20 working days before he has to decide on whether to grant all the planning and environmental approvals as a single package.

RATS spokesperson, Harriet Mantell said, “We all know what the Minister wants. The public has the right to know what the publicly funded, independent Assessment Committee has concluded, and should not have to wait while the Minister ploughs ahead with approving the original design. And while he is at it, he should release the full business case.”

“Stage 1 of the proposed East West Link alone is estimated to cost $8 billion, but the recent decision to proceed with Stage 2 raises that cost to somewhere around $18 billion. This is too big a decision to be taken in secret”, Ms Mantell said.

“During the CIS hearings, the Linking Melbourne Authority (LMA) only presented evidence about Stage 1 and excluded the dramatic impact of State 2 because it was not funded. Yet Stage 2 will boost traffic at the western end from 10,000 to 60,000 vehicles a day. This will fundamentally change a whole range of impacts in Stage 1, such as traffic volumes, air quality, noise etc.”

“Logic, and commonsense, therefore require that the CIS process be recommenced to take account of the Government’s decision to build Stage 2”. Ms Mantell said, “Councils, community groups, individuals all made the point in the CIS  Hearings that the Government’s approach was fundamentally flawed because so much about the project had yet to be decided. The decision to proceed immediately with Stage 2 massively compounds this”.

“Quite apart from the almost universally held view that more work needed to be done to be able to understand the impacts, it now beggars belief that the Minister could possibly make a decision to grant approvals for the construction of Stage 1 without seeking further advice on the changed impacts as a result of Stage 2.

“The Government’s apparent determination to rush through this massive project without proper consideration of the potential impacts, or finalizing basic details, carries with it significant risk for the people of Victoria. Rushed decisions are almost always bad decisions and often expensive ones”.

“There appears to be no good reason for this unseemly haste other than a political desire to have done something before the November election. This is simply not good enough”, Ms Mantell said.

For further comment:

Harriet Mantell 0425 725 706
James Milne 0421 755 906