• Malcolm Fisher

Beaches Link Project: Be Careful What You Wish For!

A shiny new tunnel, wide connecting roads, the end of Spit Bridge misery…it all sounds so lovely on paper. Until you grapple with the gruesome details. For a start there’ll be unfiltered exhaust stacks belching out toxic fumes close to homes and schools at Seaforth, Cammeray and Balgowlah. For many, there’ll be unrelenting noise, dust and traffic disruption for 5 to 7 years. Burnt Bridge Creek Deviation will become twelve lanes, the creek diverted and green space forfeited. Several people will even lose their homes! And some of our most cherished environmental jewels will be sacrificed in this “covenant with the devil”.

As Wakehurst Parkway is massively expanded, the rocky bushland scenery between Garigal National Park and the War Memorial Park will be smashed with jack hammers or blown up with explosives. (And this is where Sydney’s rarest reptile, the Rosenberg’s Goanna, hangs out). Thirty-nine football fields worth of threatened species habitat will be bulldozed, most of it along this stretch of road. This includes some of the most endangered vegetation on the planet (Duffys Forest Ecological Community).

The entire project will involve the “removal” of 3,500 plus trees- well over 2,000 in this vicinity. Sensitive Aboriginal sites, such as the engravings at Bantry Bay, will also be visually diminished. Projected pollution, erosion and siltation into Manly Dam’s fragile creeks will jeopardise the only population of Gondwanan Climbing fish in Sydney-thought to have survived here for over 60 million years. And Manly Dam’s status as the only lake in the city where humans can still swim in unpolluted freshwater, will also be threatened.

Sydney Water’s bushland site in North Balgowlah was saved, by the community, from a housing development in 2015. This area would now be used as a “construction support site” All native plants and animals will be erased (before it is belatedly returned to Manly Dam Reserve). There is also significant risk to beautiful Middle Harbour and its marine eco-systems, from drilling and spoil removal on the harbour bed. Documents reveals that “After the construction phase, heavy industry will be encouraged into the Northern Beaches due to greater access for large articulated trucks”. (Seems like more intensive development is coming to a street near you!)

While Paris and London have a “sustainability” vision, we are emulating the Los Angeles blueprint and destroying our unique green lungs for yet more cars. The mass public transport corridor, from Dee Why to Chatswood, continues to be ignored and the Tunnel project doesn’t even include a designated bus lane!

Independent transport expert Dr Michelle Zeibots reports that any gains in travel times will eaten up by extra congestion on arterial roads anyway! Only now you’ll be paying a toll for your frustration! The last word on this issue should really go to Planning Minister, Rob Stokes: “Building more roads to relieve traffic is like buying bigger trousers to lose weight."

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