North East Link toll road $16 billion Road vs People

 Air Quality Pollution PM10 & PM2.5

In crisis times, is it more important to spend $16 billion on the North East Link (NEL) road project, or support families, the health system and employers? Billions are already sitting in the bank for the NEL Project. The NEL toll road will take a toll in more ways than one.

North East Link Project (NELP) Air Quality Data collected along NEL route has been obtained under Freedom of Information (FOI) for the months March to August 2019. It shows nine daily exceedances now of the Environmental Effects Study (EES) State Environment Protection Policy (SEPP) limits for Fine Particle Pollution PM10 & PM2.5.

The EES SEPP allows no daily exceedances in a calendar year. Some FOI PM10 (fine particles) data has been under-measured but the report data does not state this. The worst Air Quality results are shown to be at Bellevue Primary School in North Balwyn.

The biggest polluters being diesel cars and trucks, which will quadruple with the NEL, causing massive respiratory health problems near schools, kindergartens, aged care facilities and residences.

Particle Pollution PM10 & PM2.5 are particles so small they can’t be seen. Diesel fuel is a big emitter of fine particles pollution. They're like asbestos fibres and cigarette smoke which get into lungs and kill people.

World Health Organisation (WHO) experts say the only safe level of particle pollution is zero. NEL exceedances of daily SEPP limits will have serious human health consequences.

Road Traffic Noise

Minister Wynne has ruled for NEL:

  • Noise protection at the upper level of a residence is to be excluded.
  • Noise protection for the night time will be 55 dB(A) at ground floor level. This breaches the NEL Scoping Requirements WHO Night Noise Guidelines 2009 which recommends 45 dB(A) for night time at the upper level.
  • The height of noise walls is to be limited to 10m at the expense of human health and to save the Project money. This causes breaches of Road Traffic Noise limits daytime 63 dB(A) L10 18 hr policy at 156 residences at ground floor level. Many 100’s more if upper level is included.

NELP is refusing to monitor Road Traffic Noise near overpasses, thus breaching NEL Environmental Performance Requirement NV1 (b).

This is a blatant attempt to exclude the overpasses from the road noise impact on residences.

Conclusion

To ensure that we keep Melbourne liveable and safe for residents, this toll road must not go ahead. In the short term, we're calling on Daniel Andrews to use this money to
 support people during the Corona crisis. In the longer term, we ask the Victorian government to rethink the NEL and put this $16 billion into much needed public transport such as Melbourne Metro 2 and Doncaster Rail. 

Barry Watson 

26/3/2020