11 February 2020
Council unanimously agreed to seek a judicial review into the Inquiry and Advisory Committee (IAC) hearing process and the Minister’s assessment of the North East Link (NEL) Environment Effects Statement (EES). Along with Banyule, Whitehorse and Boroondara Councils we want to know if the NEL reports and decisions were lawful.
Council believes that the EES process should have been more rigorous and based upon a detailed design, not a concept.
Manningham Mayor, Cr Paul McLeish said there were many questions about the approval of the NEL design and its impacts that still remain unanswered.
“The proposed reference design does not convey the full impacts of the project on our community and environment. An artist’s impression is not a detailed design, and does not represent what lies ahead.
“The project concept still leaves much to be determined – so much of the impact on our community remains unknown with the decisions to be made at a later date by a consortium that hasn’t yet been awarded a contract.
“A greater level of clarity is required from the North East Link Project (NELP) Authority about what will and won’t be included in the project.
“There is still no certainty on the outcome for the 1200 jobs that may go at the Bulleen Industrial Precinct. The future of our community's parkland, sporting grounds and open spaces is still unknown with no guarantees on how and when they’ll be addressed.
“We believe it is in the best interest of our community, businesses and environment to challenge the NEL EES process with a judicial review.
“We consider a judicial review a necessary investment to ensure the best outcome for our community and environment. Council takes its role in advocating on behalf of the community very seriously and we want the best outcome for our community.”
Areas where Manningham wants to see improvement in the NEL project:
- Manningham Road interchange redesigned.
- Bulleen Industrial Precinct businesses supported.
- Community parkland at Bulleen Park preserved and protected.
- A smarter, leaner design of the Eastern Freeway widening.
- Visually appealing noise walls, protecting air quality and minimising construction impacts.
- Minimal loss of open space at Bulleen Park.
- Sporting clubs at Bulleen Park re-accommodated.
- The Doncaster Busway, priority bus services and provision for a rail link.
- Protection of the historic Bulleen River Red Gum.
- Minimal loss of trees and no undergrounding of Koonung Creek.
- Guaranteeing complimentary projects are fully funded and delivered.
This decision to commence a judicial inquiry is in line with Council’s motion of 26 September 2017, where Council resolved to support the North East Link proposal in principle.
Council did not support the selected ‘Option A’ route through Bulleen, until further information was provided to Council, in order to understand the impact and implications of the proposal. This has not been forthcoming though the EES process and Minister’s assessment.