Friday, September 5, 2008

Costly Eco Nuttery - M5 East Tunnels

I regard myself as a lover of nature. I enjoy the outdoors. The rugged charm of the Australian Bush. Camping by a stream around a camp fire in a valley full of eucalyptus and devoid of human markings. That is my idea of being close to nature. It is also assisting a harmless spider found inside my house to a new home out in the garden.

I have a front yard with 4 gum trees planted by Liz and me over 25 years ago. I turned the remnant lawn into a bush garden to address the dryness of the drought and the strain of the trees. I am now blessed with spring bush flowers and daily visits by colourful lorikeets and parrots.

So I do appreciate wild beauty. I appreciate the bush.

What I do not appreciate is eco-nuttery. This is where NotInMyBackYard ( NIMBY) activists pick up an issue and define the whole matter of public interest as an ecological battle being fought by eco lovers against the evil forces of road makers and users. And the politicians cave in to them.

The M5 East Roadway was originally planned to route through the Wolli Creek Valley. This contains a road corridor reserved for decades. The valley has a creek running through it, and a lot of second rate bushland. It already has a major rail route established adjacent to the creek and bush. The local activists took up the challenge to protect their amenity and ran a successful campaign over many years.

The consequence of this activism was a lengthy delay in the provision of the M5 east to south western Sydney ( Liverpool) drivers and a massive hike in costs ( $800 Million) due the construction of a dual road system underground for 4 kilometres. Whilst second rate bush was saved from having an open, wide and fast roadway within sight of activists backyards, drivers have to daily pass through exhaust emission smog filled, narrow, tunnels ensuring their car air systems are turned to internal air circulation to avoid being gassed. Drivers have been forced to a dirty underground where as they could have been travelling atop a viaduct roadway in the open air with pleasant views to their work or home.

This is eco-nuttery. Especially as the same people who forced the roadway underground are now forcing the Government into other extraordinary expenditure to clean the air in the tunnel without exhausting it near their backyards. The Government is expending $50 million on a trial 18 month filtration system to clean the air in the tunnels.

There is currently a review of the duplication of te M5 East roadway to accommodate the growing demand for container truck trips to and from Port Botany.

As Mayor of Liverpool I will advocate the use of the Wolli Creek corridor for a new viaduct for car traffic and have the trucks use the existing dirty tunnel.

There will be no more silence from Liverpool to advance a political party's self interest.

And no more NIMBY eco-nuttery dressed up as genuine ecological causes.

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