Alarm at the potential impact of North East Link is ramping up.
At a recent forum in Eltham, The Greens MP, Samantha Dunn, stated she believes the four proposed options are “pitting communities against each other”.
Ms Dunn called for communities to unite to oppose the construction of the North East Link in any form.
“It doesn’t matter where it is… it isn’t the right direction for Melbourne, it’s not going to solve the problems that you have it’s going to create enormous impacts in your communities… it doesn’t matter which part of northern Melbourne you live in, if this project goes ahead it is going to impact your area,” Ms Dunn said.
Greens advisor Alex Mark told the forum:
“All of the options lead to a loss of amenity, community facilities, schools and established residences, they carve up greenspace and require the acquisition of parkland, they generate pollution, they generate more traffic on local roads… all of them will further entrench car dependency and urban sprawl.
“What hasn’t been shown by the North East Link Authority (NELA) yet is that they will create land use change so you will see, light residential become commercial, industrial or far higher density residential areas — and that is not something that is reversible,” he said.
Mr Marks then put forward a suite of public transport projects which, combined, would cost less for the toll road, including upgrading rail, bus and tram and freight services to better serve the north east of Melbourne.
Manningham council have sent out a survey to gauge residents’ views on the project.
Manningham Council say they will use the data advocate on behalf of its residents on the preferred route and the design priorities.
The survey is open until 5pm November 17. Councillor Paul McLeish told the Diary he is arguing for improved public transport to be factored in to the plan.
“The North East Link at this point essentially completely fails to address public transport in any meaningful way — there is no inclusion of park and ride facilities, there is no expansion of existing park and ride facilities contemplated in any form there is no apparent consideration of heavy rail.
“If you are trying to plan for Melbourne for 30 years, which is what this infrastructure is about, in 30 years the population will be between 7–8 million people living in the city of Melbourne and you are going to need that outer loop rail just to make the rail network function,“ said Cr McLeish. Meanwhile the recently launched North East Link Forum (NELF) combines residents’ associations of Warrandyte, Park Orchards and Donvale who have come together to respond to issues around Route B and C, which would most likely impact these areas.
“These proposed routes would mean a 3km stretch of six-lane freeway thundering through the valley,” said NELF spokesperson Carli Lange-Boutle.
“We have followed the NE Link Authorities guidelines and have learnt nothing further to help us truly understand the impact on local roads, traffic, environment and residents…we are calling on Warrandytians to actively lobby against the impacts of Route B and C and join us in defending our Village character, our natural Yarra River valley bush land and surrounding Green Wedge buffers,” she said.
To have your say, Manningham Councillor Sophy Galbally has announced she will be holding a No Highway in Green Wedge protest at Stintons Reserve on Sunday, November 26 from 11am–1pm or contact NELF firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how to get involved with their campaign.
OFFICIAL PLANS for the four routes under consideration for the North East Link have been released by the North East Link Authority (NELA).
The four possible corridors were determined through geo-technical investigations, traffic modelling, environment studies and discussions with community groups, businesses and local residents.
Premier Andrews made the announcement and said local roads in the north-east have become default freeways.
“North East Link will fix that — carrying 100,000 vehicles a day and creating 5,000 jobs,” he said.
However, Member for Warrandyte and Shadow Minister for Roads and Infrastructure, Ryan Smith told the Diary: “building the North East Link without a plan to build the East West Link will simply channel 100,000 vehicles a day onto an already gridlocked Eastern Freeway”.
Of the four routes under consideration, two are set to run to the west of Warrandyte.
The proposed Corridor B would cross the Yarra at Fitzsimons Lane and follow the current powerline reserve with an interchange at the Tindals Road and Reynolds Road intersection and join EastLink at the Ringwood end of the Mullum Mullum Tunnel.
Proposed Corridor C would cross under the Yarra near Crystal Brook Caravan Park and follow the powerlines to the same interchange at Tindals Road.
Both of these options would also incorporate upgrades to Reynolds and Springvale Roads.
Further West, Corridor A is proposed to travel 11 kilometres directly south from Greensborough through the Banyule Flats to connect with the Eastern Freeway at Bulleen Road; this route would include an upgrade of the Eastern Freeway to accommodate the increased traffic volume.
Corridor D is a sweeping 40-kilometre route which travels through Kangaroo Ground, Bend of Islands, Christmas Hills, Lilydale, Mooroolbark and Bayswater, with connection to Eastlink near the Burwood Highway.
Extensive tunnels are planned to protect the environment and cultural assets: Corridor A will be 50% tunnel, Corridor B is planned to comprise a minimum 70% of tunnels over its 24-kilometre length, while Corridor C will have 55% of its 26-kilometre route underground and around 40% of Corridor D will be tunnelled.
Ryan Smith said that having these four corridor options on the table “with a significant lack of detail, Daniel Andrews has created an extreme level of anxiety amongst residents who will potentially have their homes acquired”.
NELA Communication and Stakeholder Engagement officer, Kim Jordan, who presented the plans to local community groups said that NELA have discussed using the powerline reserves with AusNet and they said that to place the high voltage lines underground would not be feasible with the existing reserve.
“That leaves us putting the road underground and leaving the powerlines where they are,” Ms Jordon said.
She said the project “will be completed with a set of guiding principles”:
• Minimise impacts in communities.
• Minimise impacts on environment and cultural assets.
• Minimise impacts during construction.
• Optimise efficient use of resources.
Residents are invited to attend local information sessions during August or can provide their feedback online.
There will be an information session on August 19 at Warrandyte Primary school where residents can give feedback to NELA about the proposed routes.
The Diary will supply publish the NELA technical report on this website when it is made available, in the mean time, more details on the corridor options can be found here.
The Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) says that it is actively preparing for the short feedback period.
Convenor for the WCA’s North East Link subcommittee, Carli Lange-Boutle, says “the WCA is collaborating with other associations along the Greensborough-Eltham-Park Orchards-Donvale-Ringwood Route corridor to identify the potential benefits and impacts of the options.
“This consortium of local associations forms a study group, calling itself the North East Link Forum (NELF), which facilitates an understanding of priority concerns of each district, while also being a means to share information and ideas.”
Ms Lange-Boutle advises that each association continues to work to their individual objectives and priorities.
“The WCA’s priority is to help defend our village character, our natural Yarra River valley bush setting and the surrounding Green Wedge buffers”, she continued.
“The Park Orchards and Donvale communities are worried about potential impact on the Mullum Mullum Creek corridor and about traffic issues.
“The WCA has respectfully identified concerns regarding increased traffic pressure on Yarra Street from a possible ramp system at the intersection of Heidelberg-Warrandyte Road as a key issue.”
Ms Lange-Boutle said “We are devoting considerable effort into encouraging Manningham Council and residents that now is the time to get involved.
“Now is when we all need to communicate our core issues to NELA in response to the route option discussion paper.”
Ms Lange-Boutle said the WCA hoped “Warrandyte residents would take an active interest in this issue”.
These sessions continue the community consultation which commenced last month.
NELA received 7000 responses to their online survey and found the community’s three main issues were: protection of the environment, public transport and urban design.
Last month, residents of Nillumbik were given the opportunity to attend a series of pop-up meetings held by NELA, which were initiated by Nillumbik Council Officers and councillors Karen Egan and Jane Ashton.
Residents asked many questions of the NELA community engagement team with many of the question raised during the first pop-up meeting in Eltham concerned primarily with the routes plan to run through Warrandyte and Kangaroo Ground.
Narelle Campbell has attended several of the pop-up meetings as a concerned resident of the Green Wedge.
She told the Diary that NELA appeared receptive and welcoming of discussions.
“The NELA and Nillumbik Council pop-up sessions give us the opportunity to talk to NELA with our issues face to face,” she said.
Ms Campbell said that Nillumbik residents have been “turning up to these sessions to make sure NELA acknowledges and can articulate all of the reasons why a rural Nillumbik Green Wedge option is a bad idea in its own right and achieves a poor project outcome when compared to other North East Link options”.
Ms Campbell gave the Diary her impression of the reality faced by the North East Link Authority.
“The reality is that all North East Link Project options impact on people, homes, the environment, and create engineering challenges — there is no ‘easy’ build option, completing the Link now is about identifying the ‘least worst’ project option to achieve project benefits,” she said.
As reported in the May edition of the Diary, The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) have been advocating for a wholly aboveground option.
“Tunnels are expensive to build, prolong construction timelines, and cannot accommodate dangerous goods vehicles, which forces them onto other roads, impacting community amenity,” VTA CEO Peter Anderson said earlier this year.
However, Ms Jordon said the VTA’s preferred route through Chirnside Park would require some tunnelling, and that only around 1% of trucks carry dangerous goods.
Ryan Smith said the proposed North East link routes are an unprecedented attack on the Green Wedge.
“Daniel Andrews seems not to know or care about the impact this project will have on the local environment, Mr Smith said.
A final decision on the final route will be announced by the end of the year, with the Premier saying contracts would be signed in 2019 and construction commencing in 2020.
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.
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