Passionate local Activist Mary Merkenich has informed our group on the full extent of the tragedy that is the planned (now underway) Nth East Link Project. Construction has already begun for this project in places, but we still aim to stop it from going ahead and join together with other local groups to continue to push back.
What 'Friends of the Earth' say about the Nth East Link Project
Did you know that $16 billion (of taxpayer money) is about to be wasted on a major toll road that Melbourne doesn’t even need?
Covid-19 has changed the way we live and commute. This gives us an opportunity to think of ways to enrich our local communities rather than destroy them.
Local areas need to be protected and enjoyed, not trashed by toll roads.
This monster road is set to cut through communities, bulldoze 26,000+ trees, increase noise and air pollution, render homes unliveable, and destroy habitat for native animals.
Now more than ever, we know that open space, parkland, and clean air is imperative to the health and wellbeing of people.
We join with FOE and other local groups and indviduals as listed below, to take a stand against the Ecologically Disatrous Nth East Link Project
We join with:
- Mary Merkenich: a Templestowe resident, teacher, and local activist
- Michelle Giovas: President of Friends of Banyule, Heidelberg resident, community advocate and activist.
- Katie George: Candidate for Bakewell Ward (Banyule City Council), Yallambie resident and local activist
- James Deane: Vice President of Warringal Conservation Society, local resident speaking on local environmental impacts.
- Barry Watson: Doncaster resident, has researched noise and air pollution impacts of the project, local anti-freeway campaigner
- Dr. John Stone: Senior Lecturer in Urban Planning in the Faculty of Architecture, Building, and Planning at the University of Melbourne
- Ian Hundley: long-term resident of North Balwyn, member of the PTUA and Protectors of Public Lands, committed campaigner and strong advocate for rational transport solutions.
More Information from Mary Merkenich
The proposed North East Link would widen the existing Eastern Freeway (to at least 12 lanes – and as wide as 24 lanes in some sections) and create a link to the Greensborough Bypass.
It will result in much greater car dependency in Melbourne, and especially in northern and eastern suburbs.
It will generate more traffic which would further congest arterial and local roads in northern and eastern suburbs.
The North East Link will:
- Increase greenhouse gas pollution and other deadly pollutants from oil and petrol combustion from an expected 100,000 vehicles daily;
- Destroy the habitat for many species;
- Intensify road noise in residential areas;
- Increase air pollution 2.5 times on the Eastern Freeway;
- Result in the destruction of over 26,000 mature trees (and the loss of their positive effects on mental health and their beneficial actions of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere) including a National Trust-listed River Red Gum over 500 years old and
- Destroy vegetated open space and the loss of 2.7 hectares of parkland.
The Impacts on Melbourne
Most major Australian cities will be far hotter than forecast in coming years, as a lack of vegetation creates "heat islands," especially in poorer areas, a new report, ‘Temperature Check: Greening Australia's Warming Cities’, warns. The report found green spaces in almost all major cities had declined in the last decade.
The North East Link if built will contribute to the heat island effect by decreasing green space and tree cover, by increasing the area (replacing green space) paved by road, and by inducing additional private vehicle use and thus emissions.
Impacts on the Yarra River
The Yarra River will be polluted with stormwater containing potentially toxic chemicals running off the $16 billion North East Link unless action is taken
So says Chris Chesterfield who is the chair of the Birrung Council which was appointed by the Andrews government in 2018 to advocate for the Yarra. He continues:
The river will be polluted with significant volumes of stormwater if water treatment is not installed along the widened Eastern Freeway.
The construction of freeways in Melbourne has been a disaster for the Yarra's health and the North East Link must mark a turning point in protecting the city's rivers and creeks.
The expansion of the Eastern Freeway to more than 20 lanes at its widest point will
obviously create additional stormwater runoff
into Koonung Creek, which runs adjacent to the freeway and flows into the Yarra, Mr Chesterfield warned.
The problem of disposing of toxic soil from the West Gate Tunnel project will also apply to the construction of the North East Link.
PFAS are toxic and potentially carcinogenic chemicals. The North East Link Inquiry & Advisory Committee Report (page 115) states that PFAS waste from Borlase Reserve and the Bulleen Industrial sites can be disposed of locally, and the planning minister has approved this. The State Government planned to dump toxic waste (including PFAS) from the Westgate Tunnel project close to homes in Bacchus Marsh. This has been challenged by the Moorabool Environment Group and Melton Council in separate court actions.
Widening of Local Road and Threat to Flood Plains
As part of the North East Link project, Templestowe Road will be widened. Also proposed is the rezoning of adjacent industrial land to residential and residential development of Yarra Valley Country Club. Most of this area is flood plain on or near environmentally sensitive parkland and endangered species. None of these proposals have been subject to an environmental assessment.
Devastating the Ecology
James Deane, Vice president of the Warringal Conservation Society has said that around 26,000 trees will be chopped down and that about 180 large native trees, which are greater than 80 centimetres in diameter, will be lost. These larger trees contain hollows and are important wildlife habitat. Thousands of smaller native trees will also be destroyed.
Included in this destruction will be the endangered Studley Park Gum, a rare natural hybrid between the River Red Gum and a Swamp Gum. The Simpson Barracks in the north eastern suburb of Watsonia contains the largest and probably last viable population of this species. This is likely to be eliminated by the construction of the North East Link.
The Simpson Barracks also has one of the largest known populations of the small blue Matted Lax-lily, an endangered species. Its estimated plant population is between 1400–2500 and 83 of these are within the North East Link Project (NELP) area.
The Banyule municipality and surrounding area provides habitat over winter for the critically endangered swift parrot, a beautiful, bright green bird that spends summer in Tasmania. The area is also home to the powerful owl, another threatened species. The powerful owl is an apex predator that eats possums and requires a large territory. The North East Link Project will impact upon its hunting and breeding territory and will reduce the chance of this species being able to persist in the area.
Residents and environmentalists are concerned that the environmental assessments have been incomplete and superficial. Furthermore, the poorly defined and inadequate mitigation strategies that have been planned do not properly compensate for the damage that will be caused. If we want to preserve the uniqueness and beauty of our environment we have to stop tree clearing and projects which destroy it. Preserving the environment is necessary to stop global warming. NELP will not solve transport congestion, public transport will.
- Submission by John Young to the Whitehorse City Council Draft Urban Forest Strategy 2021-2031 with special emphasis on the NE Link Project and the proposed widening of the Eastern Freeway. View HTML page here.
- Tree chop underestimated by 80 per cent on North East Link - The Age June 2021
- Stop the North Link Alliance