Submissions on the Environmental Impact Statement for the M4-M5 Link closed on 16 October.
The Department of Planning and Environment has received a huge number of submissions opposing the project, including 10,450 hard copy submissions from across the Inner West and City of Sydney Council areas.
The Glebe Society, Forest Lodge Public School P&C, Stop WestConnex – Glebe Forest Lodge and COGG all lodged submissions. The Glebe Society’s submission has been put on our web page under Local Issues, Transport and Traffic.
This is a powerful message to the NSW Government that people are unhappy about WestConnex and the havoc it is inflicting on communities for no obvious gain. The Department will now seek responses on the submissions with the Minister then deciding whether to approve the M4-M5 Link. There is unlikely to be any decision from the Minister before March 2018.
WestConnex is a State Significant Infrastructure project. This means that a series of steps will be taken before a decision is made. The Department will send the submissions to the Sydney Motorway Corporation (the owners of WestConnex) and to other government agencies for their response. Once responses are received, the Department will prepare an assessment report for the Minister taking into account the submissions, the responses to the submissions and reports and advice from other public authorities. The Minister will then consider the Department’s assessment report and decide whether to approve the project.
Even if the Minister approves the project, there are significant hurdles facing the project. A key issue is whether the Government is able to find a buyer for WestConnex. The State Government is intending to sell 51% of the shares in the Sydney Motorway Corporation along with the toll revenue generated by WestConnex. The sale is meant to fund the cost of building the M4-M5 Link. Given the failure of other toll road projects, including the Cross City Tunnel and the Lane Cove Tunnel in Sydney, there is no certainty that a buyer will be found. If a buyer can’t be found on terms suitable to the State Government it seems unlikely the M4-M5 Link, along with the Rozelle Interchange, will ever be built.