ACTIVITY IS RAMPING up in the planning for the North East Link, and the route to be chosen is by far the most contentious issue.
North East Link Authority (NELA)
NELA has confirmed their process of consultation will commence in July/August.
Their current investigations are concentrating on geotechnical testing and analysis.
Their website has a short video on the current program of drilling to take soil samples from 24 sites.
Geotechnical study sites (North East Link Authority website)
Whilst the line of drillings to the west of Warrandyte follows the expected path of the central route past Beasley’s Nursery, there is one curious drilling location shown in Warrandyte, south of the river around the Stonehouse Café area.
Katie Hall, Corporate Communications and Media Manager North East Link Authority, told the Diary “the drill locations on the video map are indicative of where drilling will take place but are not exact.
“Where the rigs are set up depends on where there is a suitable location such as a VicRoads reservation, and where we are missing information regarding the soil and rock profiles,” she said.
The current investigations will look at the suitability of tunnelling, cut and fill, gradients, vegetation, environmental and socioeconomic considerations.
NELA will then identify several corridors.
Each of the identified corridors will have a full analysis of the positives and negatives for each.
This process will not select a route for the NE Link; it is a broad corridor identification process only.
After the corridors have been identified, the first full round of public consultation by NELA will commence.
The consultations will allow the public to have input into the corridors identified and to make submissions with respect to their suitability.
Nillumbik Pro-Active Landowners (PALs)
The PALs group conducted a survey via their Facebook page, this survey received 146 responses.
47% of the responders were from Kangaroo Ground while only 1% were from North Warrandyte.
The overwhelming majority (94%) of respondents supported the North East Link with only 5% saying they did not support it.
While 70% objected to the road being built in Nillumbik, with 25% saying they approved of a Green Wedge route, and 65% supporting the link being mainly tunnel (12% against).
Spokesman for the PALs group, Max Parsons, told the Diary PALs will be working to ensure NELA understand, acknowledge and appreciate the importance of the Green Wedge to the residents and landowners in Nillumbik, as well as its state and national significance, Mr Parsons also stressed the importance of financial compensation for landowners.
“With a determined view to the primacy of human life in relation to bush fire risk, the loss of vegetation and Green Wedge areas, the dissection of and disruption to existing communities and the isolation of native fauna must all be factored into the equation to select an appropriate route for the North East Link.
“Should the North East Link proceed, affected landowners must receive appropriate market-based compensation for any acquired land or adjoining affected properties,” he said.
Warrandyte Community Association (WCA)
The WCA has expressed concern Banyule Council and residents are mounting a well-organised campaign advocating the Central Option to the west of Warrandyte as preferable to the shorter route running down to andunder the Banyule river flats to join the Eastern Freeway at Bulleen.
Convenor of the Warrandyte Community Association subcommittee working on this issue, Carli Lange-Boutle, feels the action in Banyule could have serious impact on Warrandyte.
“The Government plans to start construction on the Link in 2019 and community groups and Councils along the various routes are linking up and preparing to argue against a route through their communities,” she said
The WCA understands the public will have only six weeks in which to respond to the NELA Route Options paper, planned for issue in late July so the research needed to lodge an objection needs to begin now.
The WCA is alarmed at the potential impact of the Greensborough–Ringwood route.
The borehole location figure on the NELA website confirms the Authority is considering an alignment parallel to the high voltage powerline easements running from St Helena to Ringwood, crossing or passing under the Yarra River near Target Road in Warrandyte.
At 19 km long, this route would be over twice the length of the Banyule route and unless extensive tunnelling is used, it would impact the Diamond and Mullum Mullum Creeks, as well as the Yarra River.
Mrs Lange-Boutle says, “Access ramps at Reynolds Road near Springvale Rd seem likely for this route option and this could generate serious traffic volumes for Yarra Street Warrandyte, including Warrandyte Bridge traffic and through the neighbouring Donvale and Park Orchards.
“There is also great concern for the health of the Mullum Mullum Creek and Yarra River.
“We need to consider all impacts to our communities; economically, socially and environmentally,” she said.
There is also pressure from the east.
Nillumbik groups are preparing to argue against the routes through the Green Wedge areas of Kangaroo Ground and Christmas Hills; there are serious environmental issues along these routes too.
The WCA has urged Warrandyte residents to take an active interest on this issue
Manningham City Council
Unlike other municipalities, Manningham City Council seems to be sitting on the fence when it comesto taking a position on the route the North East Link should take.
Last month Director of Assets and Engineering, Leigh Harrison, advised the Diary the “council does not currently have a formal position on the proposal”.
The council has an Integrated Transport Advisory Subcommittee (ITAC), but Mr Harrison advised “The ITAC is an advisory committee and, as such, does not formulate policy for Council’s consideration.
“The committee can agree on a view in relation to North East Link however, to date, the level of detail associated with the North East Link is too abstract to determine any concrete direction,” he said.
Their reluctance to take a position is perhaps understandable when it is considered a number of route options pass within their boundaries.
Nillumbik Shire Council
Nillumbik council officers and Councillors Karen Egan and Jane Ashton have reached agreement with NELA to hold several information sessions for local communities within the Nillumbik investigation area to talk with NELA representatives about their process, opportunities, issues and the challenges North East Link will bring so that they can use what they learn in their decision making.
The sessions are planned to be held:
- Sunday July 23 — 9am – 12pm Eltham Town Square
- Monday July 24 — 5pm – 8pm Nillumbik Civic Centre Greensborough
- Saturday July 29 — 10am – 1:30pm Diamond Creek Community Centre
- Sunday July 30 — 10am – 12:30pm Research shops
Jane Ashton said on Facebook she is aiming to organise for a meeting in Kangaroo Ground “as this is where people who care live”.
Narelle Campbell, from the No Rural Link group who have started the social media hashtag #buildthelinkbutdontsplitthewedge are opposing the road passing through the Green Wedge.
Ms Campbell thinks the sessions are “a great opportunity for our communities to engage with NELA face to face in a reasonable, evidence based, informal and passionate way”.
More formal information, engagement and feedback sessions are planned once corridors are identified and announced in August.
The North East Link Authority are not going to have an easy time ahead of them north-east Melbourne seems to find itself in a situation where most people want the link but very few want it anywhere near them.