What do you think about Westconnex Aecom’s EIS Social and Economic Impact report?

The Westconnex project, including the M4 tunnel will have huge impact on Sydney and its citizens. You wouldn’t know this however if you relied on the EIS report. Much of the EIS is complicated technical data that can be hard to understand. By contrast, many will feel able to comment on the Social and Economic impacts report. You might know about one of the many aged care homes or schools in the project area that expressed concern about the project from the start; or you might be interested in how Westconnex evaluates the fear of being forced out of their homes on vulnerable citizens; or how people who have been given only 9 months to sell and find another home are faring? If you don’t find the answers in the EIS summary, don’t be shocked but do let us know how you feel about it.

There is still a lot of reading so the People’s EIS has provided a summary of the Chapter in the main report and two large appendices.We’ve included some references back to the reports which tend to be repetitive and regurgitate demographic and other official data from government reports.

Everyone should have an opinion on this one – so how do you rate this social impact study? You’ll note that there are a lot of references to community consultation but somehow the consultant missed the fact that thousands of residents are completely opposed the tunnel and the entire Westconnex not just because of the impact on their lives but because like some independent experts, they have major problems with AECOM’s traffic data. The report certainly doesn’t capture the feeling of these residents including 94 year old Ray Harrison, his family and neighbours who protested against the Westconnex drilling this week. This photo was taken right beside one of the heritage houses slated for demolition. You might have expected that development work would cease while the EIS is considered – but not in the (dys)Utopian world of NSW planning.

Residents protesting in Haberfield in 2014. Originally wrongly labelled as last week
Residents protesting in Haberfield in 2014. Originally wrongly labelled as last week
A year later, thousands of people continue to object to the project but their views are not acknowledged in the EIS . This photo was taken in Wattle Street Haberfield last week
A year later, thousands of people continue to object to the project but their views are not acknowledged in the EIS . This photo was taken in Wattle Street Haberfield last week
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4 thoughts on “What do you think about Westconnex Aecom’s EIS Social and Economic Impact report?

  1. Great photo used in post. But sorry, it was not taken this week. It was was taken a year ago in Walker Avenue, Haberfield. On that occasion we stopped exploratory drilling in Walker by one of short listed contractors then tendering for the M4 East contract. This 2014 resident protest occurred during the ‘preliminary concept phase’, and before the recent announcement of the preferred route and successful tenderer. We actually had several pop up protests in 2014, that successfully stopped and delayed exploratory drilling in Haberfield and Ashfield.

    It has been a long struggle for us here. It is not over yet. And we are still out and about, challenging, stopping and delaying. This community is not happy!

    From mid 2013, and certainly since November 2014, people here in Haberfield and Ashfield have been questioning and objecting to WestConnex. In December 2014, the first WDA ‘information session’ at St Johns Church in Bland St, Ashfield, was the start of a PR tick and flick exercise that continues to this day. A public relations sham designed to make it seem that the community has been consulted. Quite frankly, the way people have been treated is an insult and a disgrace.

    Great EIS site. Thanks

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    • Thanks for pointing that out slaurar. I’m going to correct that caption and post other photos as well. It’s important to understand that this has been a long process and the community has been voicing objections to the tollway concept for a long time. It’s hard not to see the whole planning process as a set up designed to deliver billions of dollars to private companies. One of the purposes of this site is to cut through and reveal that. Through the whole 4800 page long EIS report there are countless references to community consultation but the major point that thousands reject the project is not acknowledged. I also noticed that the health report includes no acknowledgement or assessment of the extraordinary stress that is already being experienced in Haberfield. You may notice that it says right near the end of the Social and Economic Impact statement that counselling and assistance is being given for relocation – maybe in some cases but I have certainly heard of cases where that is NOT the case. I spoke to a young man who was being evicted in St Peters who was being forced to pay rent up to the end of six month lease even though he had an offer of a room which he had to turn down because he would have to pay double rent.

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  2. There are over a quarter of a million people in just the M4 footprint. That’s not just ‘a few cracked eggs’. This is a significant number of people, that the RMS proposes to place under enormous stress whilst they build this white elephant.

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  3. I went to one of the EIS information sessions and spoke to the person who wrote the Social Impact Assessment (SIA), Volume 2E of the EIS. Some of what I learnt:

    -the consultant who wrote the report came onto the M4 East project recently and was relying on earlier work done by colleagues,
    -much of the source research used in the SIA was not originally done independently by GHD but was supplied by WestConnex Delivery Authority (WDA),
    -the consultant didn’t work with original data much of the time but did identify the social infrastructure providers (SIPs) that service the suburbs affected by the M4East project,
    -there was no SIA consultation done with Ashfield Council (after the concept plan phase),
    -Dobroyd Public Primary School and St Joan of Arc Catholic school were never considered in the SIA, as they were thought to be outside of, and not even adjacent to areas affected by the M4East project,
    -‘Ella’ Community Centre (in house and outreach services) as well as the residential facility were completely unknown to the consultant,
    -there was no consultation done with any residents about the social impacts of the project, except by WestConnex/RMS, – and then only in relation to acquisition matters,
    -the SIA consultant was completely unaware of proposed road changes to City Link Road at Waratah St, and also at Mortlley Avenue /Timbrell Drive, despite these road changes directly impacting on schools, childcare centres and residents,

    The consultant thought that most of my issues with the SIA methodology and deficiencies were due to the ‘time limitations’ given for it’s preparation.

    I enjoyed talking to the consultant despite our conversation being overseen, supervised and interrupted by a member of the communications team from the WDA/Sydney Motorways Corporation. I thought the SIA consultant attempted to honestly answer my list of questions.

    Sadly, I think Social Impacts Assessment of the EIS provides a very poor description, or substantial analysis of the of the true social impacts of the WestConnex M4 East project.

    Also, just as ‘time limitations’ has adversely affected the preparation of the SIA, so too does the short time allowed for the community to respond to the EIS circumvent and limit proper democratic engagement with all the planning and approval processes for WestConnex.

    Sharon

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