June 13 - 19, 2021: Issue 498


Reminder: Parliamentary inquiry into the Impact of the Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link submissions close june 18

Manly Dam and bushland surrounds panorama, November 2019
The Save Manly Dam Catchment Committee are reminding residents that submissions to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Impact of the Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link close June 18th and are asking everyone to put in a submission.

''The current Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link project plan promises to cause significant environmental and social damage in our community. That is why the NSW Senate is now examining its many flaws.'' the local volunteer organisation states.

Save Manly Dam Catchment Committee will be making a submission to this process but need as many people as possible to also share their concerns via the below link or via email to Public.Works@parliament.nsw.gov.au - upload submissions to: www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/inquiries/Pages/inquiry-details.aspx?pk=2767

The Save Manly Dam Catchment Committee advises submissions should encompass some or all of the following:

We commend the Public Works Committee for undertaking this Inquiry, and thank the Committee for the opportunity to make a submission to the Inquiry. 

We are addressing the following terms of Reference of the Inquiry:

  (j) the impact on the environment, including marine ecosystems.  

Direct impact on Manly Dam Reserve

 - The rocky features along Wakehurst Parkway will be blown up and jack hammered.  These rocky areas were identified as being habitat for threatened species such as the Rosenberg Goanna and the Large-eared Pied Bat.

- Construction of the Beaches link project would involve the loss of 20.92 hectares of threatened species habitat, most of it along this stretch of road (That’s 39 football fields). This includes the removal of nearly 1.5 hectares of Duffys Forest Endangered Ecological Community-some of the rarest vegetation on the planet.

  • Wakehurst Parkway cannot be widened to 4-6 lanes without destroying the bush at the top of Manly Dam and Garigal National Park. The ridge is simply too narrow for such a wide road.
  • The edge of the road in many places will be either a steep cliff or artificial slope. It will be higher than the trees and visible throughout Manly Dam Reserve and in a lot of Garigal National Park.
  • The road is too wide to have adequate runoff water treatment. Untreated water from the road will pour through the bush, scouring the land and filling streams below with sediment every time there is heavy rainfall.  The EIS states that “There is the potential for impacts on aquatic biodiversity due to reduced water quality during operation due to the presence of sensitive receiving environments”.  Impacts to the Galaxias climbing fish that have survived in this fresh water, and Red-crowned toadlet that also needs fresh, clean water to survive.
  • Street lighting along Wakehurst Parkway will significantly affect both nocturnal and diurnal animals, causing them to die out from that area. Pygmy possums will be affected.
  • Without street lighting, a 4-6 lane road with trucks, bicycles and pedestrians will be a safety hazard. If lights are not installed when the project starts, the accidents that follow will lead to street lighting.
  • Light from the road will be visible all through Manly Dam and Garigal National Park. The road is on a ridge, so light from the road will be visible for miles around.
  • Encouraging articulated trucks and construction vehicles to use Wakehurst Parkway could result in accidents and spills that will have significant environmental impacts on Manly Dam and Garigal National Park. Any spill of toxic liquid will pour downhill directly into the bush and be extremely difficult to clean.
  • There will be a lot of traffic on Wakehurst Parkway. Heavy construction vehicles going 80km/h will dominate the road for the next 30 years. Traffic noise will be heard all across the bush, particularly at night.
  • Construction will destroy a large area of bushland at the top of Wakehurst Golf Course around the two water tanks - 20 hectares along Wakehurst Parkway. This area was declared by Sydney Water to be rich in endangered plant and animal species and worthy of conservation.
  • The Aboriginal carvings along Engravings Trail will be under threat from road runoff and vibration damage - being only 50m from construction.

- A 26m ventilation outlet along Wakehurst Parkway will produce emissions so great that it will even “Have the potential to affect prescribed airspace”.  There would be increases in the PM2.5 concentration along Wakehurst Parkway and a large increase in traffic (about 140 per cent) as a result of the project. However, the section of Wakehurst Parkway that is affected crosses bushland, so all the toxic air quality would be released into the very area that people go to for bush walks, biking and leisure activity- An area that comprises Sydney’s so called “Green Lungs”!! The unfiltered stack will be on a ridgetop above a natural basin which the bad air quality (complete with a range of toxins) will settle into!!  (The EIS for both the Western Harbour and Beaches Link tunnels put future pollution levels at more than double the maximum PM2.5 limits across the route-any amount of PM2.5 does harm according to the W.H.O.)

- The Sydney Water site at Kirkwood Avenue, Bantry Bay was saved by the community from a housing development in 2015 and promised to be returned intact to the adjoining War Memorial Park by Mike Baird (Premier of NSW). This very site is now earmarked to become a temporary construction support site with all rare biodiversity cleared. 

Impact on Burnt Bridge Creek and Balgowlah Golf Course

  • Burnt Bridge Creek will effectively end as a naturally flowing creek. Water flowing down the creek will be drained (flow reduced 96%) and underground water pumped out to a depth of 11m. This is necessary to stop water dripping into the tunnel.
  • The creek and area around it will be dried out and incapable of supporting tall leafy trees and riparian bushland.
  • The creek through the golf course will be turned into a cement stormwater drain, wider than the current creek and deeper into the ground. This is to remove water more quickly to keep the land dry and prevent water entering the tunnel. This will kill trees and water-loving plants.
  • The bat colony will be unable to survive once the creek and water retention dam on the golf course are removed. Other animals will likewise have no water.

- The NSW Government, through Save our Species, lists the key threats to Grey-headed flying foxes as loss, fragmentation and degradation of habitat, and widespread pervasive factors such as impacts of climate change and disease.

- The Beaches Link project will hasten the loss of this endangered protected and ecologically vital grey-headed flying fox colony through extreme, cumulative, long term construction disturbances, loss of access to water due to the de-watering of the creek and the removal of the water retention dam at Balgowlah Golf Course and loss of habitat.

  • The quick discharge of water into Manly Creek will increase sediment and send road runoff into the creek without the current filtering process, lowering water quality in Manly Creek and out to Queenscliff beach.
  • Instead of a creek, we will have a cement stormwater drain.

The golf course will be destroyed. It will be replaced by:

- Burnt Bridge Creek Drive widened to 12 lanes,

- a four lane road to connect the tunnel to Sydney Rd,

- an 8 storey high chimney to discharge tunnel fumes,

- a 3 storey service building built 8m into the ground, with sloping ground around it,

- a car park for the service building and park,

- a large toilet block,

- a stormwater drain,

- a soccer pitch,

- a small park.

Pollution from cars all along the tunnel will be collected and discharged from the 20m (8 storey) chimney on Balgowlah Golf Course, one 26m one on Wakehurst parkway and one on the other side of Middle Harbour. These chimneys are close to a number of schools and will cause problems in air quality when the wind blows the wrong direction.

The chimney itself will be an eyesore.

Impacts on Middle Harbour

  • The tunnel will pass under Middle Harbour in what is effectively an underwater bridge. The bridge will be supported on four pylons. Building these pylons will take several years and displace mud, possibly laced with toxins from industrial activity, into the harbour.
  • The technology used to build the pylons is ancient. Modern technology would build the supports offsite and require only a few days to weeks to put in place, causing less impact on the environment, on traffic and the lives of people in the area.

- The potential environmental impact on marine life in the Middle Harbour area including the Spit, Clontarf, Beauty Point and Sailors Bay. The construction of two cofferdams and the laying of two immersed tunnel tubes are likely to pose significant risk by disturbing the highly sensitive ecological interaction of marine life. The disturbance of sediment and more turbidity will spread accumulated toxins and affect the seagrass and the microscopic organisms within which will threaten the survival of larger animals such as the White's seahorse, several fish species and consequently the Little Penguins (Eudyptula Minor). 

- Even though all the nesting is located within the protected bays of Manly, the penguins travel all over the harbour for foraging. Many sightings have been reported from the Middle Harbour areas as well as Northbridge, I am deeply concerned that all the disturbance through dredging the sea beds as well as construction side effect such as potential fuel leaks and under-water noise will kill the seagrass patches and with it the foraging opportunities of our last remaining Penguin Colony.

Offset impacts/promises

Where biodiversity offsets are proposed, we have no confidence these will limit net losses to our precious environment. We are also painfully aware that offsets have no effect locally, so cannot make up, for example, for the felling of one of the last patches of endangered Duffy Forest, now one of the rarest forest ecosystems on the planet. Likewise, the removal of habitat supporting our local endangered fauna species means they will simply die in situ, they will not be moved elsewhere.  We have already witnessed the ineffectiveness of replanting around the Northern Beaches Hospital and other development sites where numerous trees have died. A recent investigation revealed the NSW government has failed to deliver conservation offsets for large areas of bush cleared in Sydney’s west for housing and toll road developments over two decades, including the M7 offset at Colebee Reserve that remains an ‘ecological wasteland’.