Janet’s Westconnex Journey – “we’re fighting to save the community we love”

Sydney Park Photo
Janet, Michael and their son, Fred in Sydney Park – 14,000 square metres of which will be taken by WestCONnex. Photo by Martin Brady

( Ed: Janet Dandy-Ward is a founder and key member of the WestCONnex Action Group WAG). She lives in Roberts Street St Peters, a suburb that will be devastated by WestCONnex . She is a friendly and familiar figure in the streets of St Peters, Newtown and in Sydney Park, squeezing the organisation of weekend campaigning stalls  into her busy life.  In this edited version of her submission to the New M5 EIS she describes why she is fighting WestCONnex and her observations of the planning process and impacts the project will have on her community and the rest of Sydney. You can help the WAG campaign by using their site to send your own submission to NSW Planning or go direct to NSW Planning site.  These will be open until midnight Jan. 29.)

My husband and I emigrated to Australia in 2011 (leaving all our family back in the UK) and we moved into this house in Roberts Street deciding that it could be a base whilst we think about what area we might want to move to. We fell in love with the street, our neighbours, our community, the community pre-school and our surrounding green spaces such as Sydney Park, Tilman and Simpson Park – all will be affected by WestCONnex. Incidentally, the neighbour I mention above is like a surrogate grandparent to our son. It is likely that she and her 80 year old husband will move from the street if this project goes ahead.

We have decided that St Peters is where we want to live and have already invested so much in the community – this is something that is worth fighting for; for my family, for our neighbours who are potentially losing their homes due to forced acquisitions, for those older and vulnerable residents who are now feeling uncertain about their future in this and other suburbs. Sydney deserves better.

As a social worker, I have a deep sense of social justice. I believe that this project will not meet its key objectives including reducing traffic congestion. This is a fundamental flaw. The social and environmental impacts briefly described in the EIS are unacceptable and far outweigh any benefits of the project. There are so many aspects of the traffic modelling that as a mum and a full time trainer in a large children’s charity, I have not had time to address in my submission. I have read the research about traffic inducement and I firmly believe that if you build more roads then more traffic will come, I saw this back in the UK with the development of the M25 London Orbital Motorway. Continue reading


Professor Paul Torzillo talks about WestCONnex and health

In future posts, we will provide more information about the health and social impacts of the New M5 project and the weaknesses in how they have been analysed in the EIS.

A key problem is that the Baird LNP government has allowed such a short time for the EIS consultation period, which has fallen over the Summer holidays.  Even for people with expertise, it is hard to  process technical information that is buried in the EIS PDF appendices, each of which is hundreds of pages long. Codes are given to ‘receivers’ ( buildings that fall within the study zone). For the average person, this makes computer generated maps and tables look like a maze of numbers.

Before returning to some of the data in the EIS, People’s M5 EIS highly recommends you read  this transcript of a speech by the well know Sydney respiratory physician Professor Paul Torzillo, who spoke at a Westconnex Action Group forum in August 2015. He provides an easily understood  medical specialist’s perspective on the air quality and other health issues arising from WestCONnex. There is a link to the video of his and other speeches below.

Some brief People’s EIS findings:

  • Hundreds of homes and businesses will be affected by significant noise during construction and/or operation to a level that can damage health; while mitigation is recommended for some, no details are provided. Westconnex will provide no detailed plans until after approval, and in some case until after construction begins.
  • There is growing scientific evidence that excessive noise can damage short and long term health
  • Road pollution is a significant contributor to overall pollution; living or working close to congested roads is a health risk; some roads that would  be negatively affected by the Westconnex New M5 are already polluted.
  • There is strong scientific evidence that air pollution, especially PM 2.5 and PM 10 are linked to increased risks lung disease, impaired lung development, strokes, cancer and other forms of respiratory illness.
  • The EIS acknowledges that Stoney Creek Road, King Georges Road, Campbell Street Euston Road Alexandria  and other roads will become more polluted. In some cases, air pollution is already at unhealthy level.
  • Instead of tackling the issue of Sydney’s pollution, the Baird government is planning tollway after tollway for Sydney. This  will leave many people, especially those in Western Sydney, in a car dependent situation. This is unhealthy.
  • Leightons/CIMIC,  who have been awarded the contract before approval, decided that ventilation stacks should not be filtered although tollway projects in other countries have ventilation stacks which filter emissions. The EIS asserts that there will be very low ‘ negligible’ emissions in local areas from the stacks. One reason engineers give for filtering tunnels  is to protect residents in high buildings or land.  In this project, some residents live on hills and others (e.g. in Arncliffe) live in high buildings. There are experts who say that stack emissions are not safe and should be filtered.
  • Increases in traffic will spill over into other roads and streets but because the traffic modelling only extends to two intersections past the boundaries of the Westconnex project, these increased levels have not been modelled or presented in the EIS.

As well, the assessment of air quality and noise impacts are completely dependent on the traffic modelling. We  have already seen from Chris Standen’s submission that the traffic impacts of the New M5 are extremely uncertain. For this reason, the air, noise, social impacts and health risk assessments cannot be regarded as reliable.


Professor Paul Torzillo

Paul Torzillo speech

Traffic Based Air Pollution

G’day everyone. In cities like Sydney, traffic-based air pollution – which the scientists call TRAP, which I think is pretty prophetic – is a major contributor to total air pollution in the cities, it’s about a third, it’s about 30% of the total air pollution that cities like our experience.

It’s got two main components. The first is what comes out of exhaust emissions, so that’s got compounds like carbon monoxide, nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide. It’s got benzenes; it’s got things called hydrocarbons, all of which have got a definite association with cancer.

Then there’s a second component to TRAP, and that’s road dust, fine particles from bitumen and rubber ware, and these two components contribute to this thing that they call “particulate matter”; that just means “stuff in the atmosphere”. It’s all small, some of it’s really small and some of it’s really really small, and that gets absorbed into your lungs and into your body. All these things are bad for health.

There’s overwhelming international evidence now from organisations like WHO that shows that that sort of pollution – if you look at what happens across big cities – it increases the number of heart attacks people have, strokes, it increases deaths from heart disease, deaths from respiratory disease, and there is some new evidence in the most recent WHO publication which says it probably impairs lung growth in children and it makes a contribution to diabetes, so these things on a population basis have a big impact on health.

There are three particularly important ( points) about that. The first is: these are effects that you best see when you study health in big populations. They are not things you see easily if you do a two year study in a few streets in Newtown and/or St Peters. The second thing is that these health effects occur both with long term exposure, and with repeated short term exposure. Again, the most recent WHO evidence suggests that repeated short term exposure has definitely got a health consequence. And the last thing that’s important is there’s no evidence about a “safe” lower level of any of these things. So less is better, but less isn’t safe. So almost all the important agency reports talk about “mitigating health effects”. The commonest word that you see in any of these reports is the word “mitigate”.

Link between busy roads and pollution

So what happens when you get a project like WestConnex? There have been lots of these around the world, what do they do? Well the first thing to know is that the levels of this sort of traffic air pollution are high around busy streets, and they’re high probably for up half a kilometre each side – it depends on the topography and wind direction and various other things.

Projects that involve tunnels redistribute traffic related pollution, so some places might be a bit better off, and other places might be worse off. So the tunnels themselves, the smoke stacks, the entrance points the exit point – all these places are likely to have higher levels, although you will see – and you will see on the website – it is hard to prove this because of a measurement problem that I’ll talk to you about in a second. Importantly when traffic emerges from tunnels, surprisingly, it has to go somewhere. So it goes back on to roads, and when it goes to those roads, then those roads have higher use, higher traffic, higher pollution levels.

Hard to measure health risks of pollution

For a whole host of reasons, it’s incredibly hard to give a precise measure of how risky is it to live near a stack, near a tunnel entry or exit point, near a ventilation shaft, and there’s a whole lot for reasons for that. But that doesn’t refute the fact that the overwhelming evidence is that this traffic related air pollution is bad for health.

Now many people say – and you’ll see this on the websites of every agency involved, that what should be done therefore is to monitor air quality. In fact agencies are very keen on this. But there are a lot of questions. The first is: how many of the components of some of the ones I mentioned are going to be managed? Do you measure them continuously or intermittently? How many monitors do you use? Where are they located? How does the public access this information?

In a really big National Health and Medical Research Council review of tunnel related air pollution, the expert committee in their key summary said, and I quote, “We’d like to comment on how difficult it was to obtain data about some Australian tunnels.” So if a federally funded, National Health and Medical Research Council with eminent scientists can’t access the information, how easy is it going to be for us?

Projects like WestCONnex encourage more traffic

The international experience with road projects such as these is that they encourage more traffic. There are more cars, and more people use them. This is bad for population health in Sydney, not just Newtown and St Peters. Traffic and roads have an impact on health. Aside from the ones I’ve mentioned, they reduce our ability to do a bit of walking or a bit of cycling, even as part of what your daily movement has to be. The big game in here is not monitoring, it’s diverting these billions of dollars from these sorts of systems into safe and efficient public transport systems and that’s what we should be concentrating on.


Part 2 Chris Standen: New M5 EIS fails to meet requirements

(Ed: The New M5 is being assessed under State Significant provisions of the NSW Environment, Planning and Assessment Act. Under this law, the Department prepares  the Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs). You can read a full copy of the SEARS here.

This is the second part of  Transport planning and modelling specialist Chris Standen’s  four part submission. In this part, Standen analyses the SEARS and finds the EIS does not meet a number of requirements. It’s worth noting that some local Councils and other experts agreed with Standen that the M4 EIS requirements were not met by the Westconnex EIS.  The failure to meet requirements should be a serious matter that if allowed to pass without examination undermines the entire assessment process. No decision has been made on the M4 East project yet.

( If you have missed the first part of his submission, read it here.)  

The submission has been presented by the People’s M5 EIS is a format that suits wordpress. The full submission will be uploaded later on the People’s M4 EIS. You can use this and other submissions on the People’s M5 EIS to develop your own response. 




The SEARS provide for  an analysis of feasible alternatives to the carrying out of the proposal and proposal justification, including:

  • an analysis of alternatives/options considered, having regard to the proposal objectives (including an assessment of the environmental costs and benefits of the proposal relative to alternatives and the consequences of not carrying out the proposal), and whether or not the proposal is in the public interest,
  • justification for the preferred proposal taking into consideration the objects of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979,
  • details of the alternative ventilation options considered during the tunnel design to meet the air quality criteria for the proposal,
  • details of the short-listed route and tunnel options from the tender process and the criteria that was considered in the selection of the preferred route and tunnel design, and staging of the proposal and the broader WestConnex scheme, and in particular access to Sydney Airport and Port Botany and improved freight efficiencies.

Standen’s finding: FAIL 

Comment: The EIS does not include cost-benefit analysis, modelling, or any other objective analysis of feasible alternatives. Only cursory descriptions are provided.

No alternative staging strategies are described or objectively assessed. Continue reading

Vol-1B Chapter-11 Human-health

Previous chapter: Vol 1B Chapter 10 Air quality

Vol 1B Chapter 11 Human health

hi-res pdf: New M5 EIS Vol 1B.pdf

Low-res pdf: New M5 EIS Vol 1B Chapter 11 Human health.pdf

Section Pages
11 Human health 11-1
11.1 Assessment methodology 11-1
11.2 Existing environment 11-5
11.3 Assessment of potential impacts 11-10
11.4 Environmental management measures 11-39

Appendix: Vol 2C App I Human Health Risk Assessment

Next chapter: Vol 1B Chapter 12 Noise and vibration

Vol-2C App-I Human-Health-Risk-Assessment

Chapter: Vol 1B Chapter 11 Human health

Appendix Vol 2C App I Human Health Risk Assessment

Hi-res pdf: New M5 EIS Vol 2C App I Human Health Risk Assessment.pdf

Low-res pdfs:

Section Pages
1.6 Introduction 1-1  
1.6 Overview of the project 1-1  
1.6 Overview of WestConnex 1-1  
1.6 Overview of the project 1-2  
1.6 Project location 1-4  
1.6 Secretary’s environmental assessment requirements 1-4  
1.6 Purpose of this report 1-5  
2.8 The project 2-7  
2.8 Project location 2-7  
2.8 Project features 2-7  
2.8 Connection to M5 East Motorway 2-8  
2.8 The motorway tunnel 2-8  
2.8 Ventilation facilities 2-10  
2.8 St Peters interchange 2-11  
2.8 Ancillary facilities 2-12  
2.8 Construction activities 2-13  
3.2 Assessment methodology 3-1  
3.2 What is a risk assessment? 3-1  
3.2 Overall approach 3-1  
4.6 Community profile 4-1  
4.6 General 4-1  
4.6 Surrounding area and population 4-2  
4.6 Sensitive receivers 4-2  
4.6 Population profile 4-6  
4.6 Existing health of population 4-9  
4.6 Uncertainties 4-14  
5 Community concerns 5-1  
6.11 Assessment of air quality impacts on local community 6-3  
6.11 General 6-3  
6.11 Existing air quality 6-3  
6.11 Overview of air quality impact assessment 6-5  
6.11 Assessment scenarios 6-9  
6.11 Vehicle emissions 6-10  
6.11 Assessment of volatile organic compounds and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons 6-10  
6.11 Assessment of carbon monoxide 6-19  
6.11 Assessment of nitrogen dioxide 6-20  
6.11 Assessment of particulate matter 6-27  
6.11 Assessment of regulatory worst-case scenarios 6-51  
6.11 Uncertainties 6-54  
7.5 Assessment of in-tunnel air quality 7-1  
7.5 General 7-1  
7.5 Carbon monoxide 7-2  
7.5 Nitrogen dioxide 7-3  
7.5 Particulate matter 7-5  
7.5 Overall assessment 7-7  
8.5 Assessment of noise and vibration impacts on health 8-9  
8.5 General 8-9  
8.5 Existing noise environment 8-9  
8.5 Noise assessment criteria 8-11  
8.5 Overview of noise and vibration assessment 8-14  
8.5 Health outcomes relevant to noise 8-23  
9.8 Assessment of social impacts on health 9-1  
9.8 General 9-1  
9.8 Changes in traffic 9-1  
9.8 Contamination issues 9-4  
9.8 Changes in air quality 9-4  
9.8 Changes in noise 9-5  
9.8 Changes in community 9-6  
9.8 Economic aspects 9-10  
9.8 Overall assessment 9-11  
10 Conclusions 10-1  
11 References 11-1  
9 2-13  
9 Indicative construction program 2-16  
9 Community receivers included in health risk assessment 4-3  
9 Summary of Population Statistics in Study Area 4-6  
9 Selected demographics of population of interest 4-8  
9 Summary of key health indicators 4-13  
9 In-tunnel average limits along length of tunnel 6-9  
9 Volatile organic compounds speciation profile for vehicle emissions 6-11  
9 6-13  
9 Adopted acute inhalation guidelines based on protection of public health 6-14  
9 health 6-15  
9 project 6-18  
9 associated with project 6-18  
9 associated with project 6-19  
9 6-20  
9 Review of potential acute health impacts – nitrogen dioxide (NO2) 6-22  
9 Review of potential chronic health impacts – Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) 6-23  
9 concentrations 6-24  
9 concentrations with operation of the project 6-25  
9 Air quality goals for particulates 6-31  
9 Comparison of particulate matter air quality goals 6-32  
9 Review of cumulative PM concentrations – 24-hour average 6-33  
9 Review of cumulative PM concentrations – annual average 6-33  
9 Adopted health impact functions and exposure-responses relationships 6-35  
9 operations in 2021 6-42  
9 operations in 2031 6-43  
9 PM2.5 concentrations – project in 2021 6-45  
9 PM2.5 concentrations– project in 2031 6-46  
9 cumulative scenario in 2031 6-49  
9 scenario in 2031 for elevated receptors 6-50  
9 concentrations: regulatory worst case 6-52  
9 concentrations: regulatory worst case 6-53  
9 (2031) 6-55  
9 In-tunnel average limits along length of tunnel 7-1  
9 Summary of noise impacts (from NVIA) 8-17  
9 Construction noise mitigation summary 8-21