Sunday, April 29, 2012


It seems that even really worthwhile projects like the North West Rail Link could mean the loss of more of our local bushland.

NWRL propose to build an emergency access facility next to Cheltenham Oval on the site of the netball courts. The purpose of the facility is to allow access in the event of an emergency in the rail tunnel between Epping and Franklin Road.

There are two options under consideration in the EIS for the access of heavy construction vehicles to the site. One is to use the M2 and, according to engineering advice, this should be possible by widening the breakdown lane from 2m to 3m for 150m to allow trucks to enter and 150m to leave the site safely. Only about 16 truck movements a day are predicted for the construction of the access tunnel.

The other option is to build a new paved road through the bushland reserve to Kirkham St, a distance of approximately 400m, back onto the local road system. Once construction is complete the new road would only be used for maintenance or in the event of an emergency in the tunnel. In the event of an emergency it would seem to be of greater value to have the choice of direct access to the M2 both to get emergency vehicles quickly to the site and to take any injured passengers to hospital.

The bushland in question is Blackbutt Gully forest in good condition. It was gazetted reserve over 100 years ago and remained intact until 1995 when the southern edge near Devlins Creek was taken for the building of the M2. This is some of the best bushland in the area, much enjoyed by both the local and wider community. A hazard reduction burn carried out on part of this bushland in January 2011 has produced spectacular regeneration and has been of great benefit to the preservation of biodiversity in our area. While the loss of the bushland immediately adjacent to the site might be accepted, it would be a much bigger loss for even more of this bushland to be taken for yet another road.

Please write a short submission to help prevent the loss of more of our precious bushland.

You can view the full EIS 1 and its accompanying documents on the Department of Planning website: or go to

Submissions can be made until 21st May 2012. They must be include your name and address. The application number (SSI-5100). A brief statement on whether you support or object to the project and the reason why you object to the proposal.

Submissions can be emailed to
On the website:
Faxed to 02 9228 6355
Posted to: Major Projects Assessment, Department of Planning and Infrastructure, GPO Box 39, Sydney NSW 2001.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Sustainable Transport Master Plan - Community Workshop

I have been asked to publish the following. The Trust is non-political and does not support any particular political party but is happy to assist discussion on these important issues.
Peter Hewitt
Secretary BCCT

CATE FAEHRMANN MLC, Member of the Legislative Council, THE GREENS NSW
A Sustainable Transport Master Plan - Community Workshop
Club RydeX, Phoenix room, 7.30 - 9.30 pm, Thursday 26April, 724 Victoria Rd, Ryde
Your invitation
The NSW government will be releasing a draft Transport Master Plan in June this year with its vision for transport for NSW for the next 20 years. Members of the community are being consulted as part of that process.
As the Greens transport spokeswoman I am undertaking consultation with the community to ensure as many voices and views are heard as possible throughout this process. I will collate ideas from these workshops and feed them into the government's draft plan to ensure NSW can look forward to a sustainable and community-focused transport system.
I will be talking to communities in regional NSW and broader Sydney in an effort to ensure genuine solutions for sustainable transport in local areas are considered. There is a danger that the some people's voices will be ignored during the government's process and I want to ensure that this doesn't happen.
There will be a workshop in Ryde on Thursday, 26 April 2012, from 7.30 – 9.30 pm at the Club RydeX at 724-730 Victoria Rd, Ryde – near the intersection with Devlin Rd. Entrance to their underground car park is via Eagle St. Buses stop along Victoria Road or at Top Ryde shopping centre. Gavin Gatenby from Eco-Transit Sydney will give us some background before we canvass your views.
I am looking forward to hearing your considered views and ask you to extend this invitation to your contacts.
RSVP: Gail Broadbent in Cate Faehrmann's office by 24 April 2012
I look forward to seeing you there,
Cate Faehrmann MLC

Sunday, April 22, 2012

NWRL - BCCT Submission

North West Rail Link – Site 3 Proposed Cheltenham Services Facility.

This submission deals specifically with the proposed Services Facility. The EIS has recommended for the facility to be located next to Cheltenham Oval and identified in the EIS as Option 6.  This submission critically analyses options 6 as presented and recommends what we believe to be the best design that minimises environmental impact, construction costs, compensation, visual impact, future maintenance costs and maximises operational efficiency.
The Beecroft Cheltenham Civic Trust was formed by the residents of Beecroft and Cheltenham in 1964 to help preserve the best qualities of the two suburbs. The Trust maintains an active role in representing the views of the 3000 local residents. 
At the recent Pre-EIS briefing, the Trust was advised about the NWRL intentions regarding access for emergency services in the event of a fire or derailment in the tunnel between Epping and Cherrybrook rail stations. The Trust was advised that the subject EIS focuses mainly on the construction phase and another EIS will be released soon that deals with the operation of the NWRL.  We believe the construction and operating phases are linked and both must be assessed concurrently in order to achieve a comprehensive environmental assessment under the provisions of the EPA Act 1979. So this submission may be deficient if additional information comes to light in the second EIS.
The EIS has considered 19 possible locations for the services facility and the Trust acknowledges that the Cheltenham Oval location (option 6) appears to be the best of the 19 presented. We note that there are no details of the other 18 options in the EIS so this submission will focus on option 6 adjacent to Cheltenham Oval. We believe the main issues that need assessing are location, ecological impact and access. In addition the short term impact during the construction phase and the long term impact during operation must also be assessed concurrently.
The main advantages of option 6 is its very close proximity to the M2 motorway and its minimal impact on ecology and residential amenity.  The recommendation to locate the completed facility and acoustic shed for the extractor fans behind the houses facing Castle Howard Rd is questioned. Surely these types of noisy operations and the completed facility would be better positioned closer to if not abutting the M2 boundary. Noise impact will be minimised and visual amenity of having a facility building next to the M2 noise walls would be less visually intrusive. Also the vegetation behind the houses can eventually by remediated once the compound is removed. Permanent access for light vehicles off Castle Howard Rd could be designed into any reconstruction of the bushland or netball courts.  Having the facility closer to the M2 will also suit direct access on and off the M2 for emergency vehicles.
The key benefit in using option 6 is making both short and long term use of direct access to the M2.  If the M2 is not used then any financial or ecological benefit is lost and option 6 will not stand up to impartial scrutiny. The proposed access from Kirkham St involving the destruction of almost one hectare of pristine indigenous bushland cannot be justified.  The total cost of such a road will be in the order of $3mill if traffic lights, construction and vegetation compensation is taken into account.  The visual amenity will be severely comprised as well.
The M2 is currently being widened and in the vicinity of the proposed facility the M2 carriageway is virtually at grade with the netball courts.  This offers a huge opportunity to satisfy the needs of the project at minimal cost.   There is also ample width within the M2 lease boundary to widen the break down lane even further then what is currently being constructed to allow for vehicles to enter and leave the service facility and its temporary compound.  This solution appears to be so simple to design, so efficient in terms of quick access and so cost effective that any cost benefit analysis would clearly support this access option.  Admittedly there may be the matter of where to take the fill once the trucks enter the M2 eastbound lanes. But we believe this can be resolved and would be a minor issue compared to the advantages of directly accessing the M2 and avoiding the Kirkham St route. 
 Ecological impact
As mentioned above any road whether temporary or permanent through the pristine bushland to Kirkham St would be a disaster for the local community as well as Hornsby Council who are responsible for  managing  the bushland in this area. If access onto the M2 cannot be secured for any reason then option 6 for a service facility should be abandoned and another location investigated. The destruction of one ha of bushland for a 'white elephant' road that may never be used is simply not acceptable and would not stack up to any impartial assessment using all the standard assessment criteria.
Short term requirements      
The EIS estimates that heavy vehicle access during construction will be about 1000 truckloads of fill over about a year. As stated above the advantage of this option 6 location is the close proximity of the M2 for direct access.  The alternative access that is being considered being the building of an industrial grade 2 lane all weather road to be used for just a year and may never be used again just does not compute.  There is no environmental or financial benefit to such a proposal. In fact it would become a long term liability. So unless short term haulage of material does not use the M2 then any benefit of option 6 is lost and another location for the service facility should be considered.   
Long term requirements
The EIS says that the service facility will need efficient access for all types of emergency vehicles. The key advantage of this location is its proximity and direct access to the M2. The probability of the service facility being used as part of an emergency may be once in a lifetime. Say once in 30 years. The construction of a purpose built access road through the pristine bushland to used once in a lifetime cannot be justified in any environmental assessment. Periodical service vehicles such as cars can use the local road network.
In summary option 6 Cheltenham Oval for a service facility will only be supported by the community if direct access to the M2 is supported. Otherwise another site must be investigated  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

NWRL Information Meeting

There will be a public information meeting on Thursday 26th April at 4pm at the Epping Club.  This meeting is focused on the stations at Epping and Cherrybrook and the areas around them.  It will not necessarily say anything about our concerns with Cheltenham Oval!
Details of other information sessions can be found on their website -

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Rail Freight Corridor Public Meeting

Transport for NSW is hosting a community information session on the third rail line between Epping and Thornleigh, Monday 23 April 4pm - 7pm Cheltenham Recreation Club.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

NWRL Access to Cheltenham Oval

This drawing is taken from the EIS, showing the NWRL Project's intention to drive a "Heavy Vehicle Access" route through from Cheltenham Oval to Kirkham Street, so heavy trucks can remove the spoil from digging the access shaft down to the main tunnel.  We are advised that the project estimates about 1000 heavy truck movements over the one year construction period (about 5 per working day).
That road will then be maintained in perpetuity as an emergency access route for fire and other vehicles in the event of a disaster in the tunnel.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

NWRL Access to Cheltenham Oval

The M2 noise barriers at the Oval are all removed at the moment, so you can see from these pics that the land at the oval near the tennis court is at exactly the same level as the M2 road opposite!!! 

Nothing is required to get fire trucks off the M2 onto the access area other than a way to get through the noise barrier.  A gate in the noise barrier would be sensible, but failing that in an emergency the trucks will just bash a hole through.

The M2 operators are skilled at handling emergencies, shutting down lanes and closing complete sections of the motorway at least once a month, they are equipped and trained and practiced to handle this emergency, and the M2 provides perfect access to all the hospitals and emergency services in Sydney. 

Ridiculous to consider bulldozing a path to allow using other public roads for emergency access.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

JRPP and the Hannah Street Development

Attached is the response from Brad Hazzard's department to our submission to the JRPP about the Hannah Street/Copeland Rd multi storey flats.

Rail Freight Noise

The Trust has made the following submission regarding rail freight noise. 
Draft Rail Infrastructure Noise Guideline

The Beecroft Cheltenham Civic Trust has been active for fifty years, and currently has a membership in excess of 600, mainly residents of Beecroft and Cheltenham.  The Trust has been discussing local rail noise problems for a very long time, and has had numerous meetings with senior Federal and State ministers to discuss the issue. 

We are usually fobbed off with the explanation that the old noisy and polluting locomotives currently pulling freight through our city are not covered by existing environmental regulations.

That same position used to be taken about aircraft noise near airports, and about trucks and other road vehicles on city streets.  However regulations have been progressively imposed banning such aircraft and vehicles where they cause excessive distress to the civil population.

The Trust has drawn up a long list of issues relating to the proposed Northern Rail Freight Corridor, of which rail noise is a dominant, but not the only, component.  One factor that would remove most of these concerns is the proposal to put the freight trains in a tunnel under the existing passenger tracks passing through our suburbs.  We have been told that this is not possible with diesel locomotives due to exhaust and fire concerns.

The solution to all these problems seems remarkably obvious, and akin to the relative success achieved over the last few decades with airport and vehicle noise. 

Regulation is needed to ban these noisy and polluting diesel locomotives from use in populated areas.

If that were done, the rail companies would be forced to use modern non-polluting silent and energy-efficient electric locomotives for the steep grades through our suburb.  They could switch to diesel for the long haul level country rail links to the north.  A tunnel could then be used for the freight trains, and almost all of our residents' concerns would be assuaged.

It must also be noted that Beecroft and Cheltenham are a listed Heritage area, which should be taken into account before implementing a plan that will demolish a children’s play area and remove hundreds of trees as well as inflicting excessive rail freight noise over a wide area.

The Office of Environment and Heritage should impose appropriate noise limits on all locomotives operating in built up areas, rather than committing to a plan which threatens serious long term disruption damage and pollution to Sydney’s environment.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Development Before Infrastructure

An article in the Epping Civic Trust bulletin for April records that two DAs (127/2012 and 236/2012) have been lodged for construction of 31 units and 35 units, in Keeler Street Carlingford.  During the extensive and acrimonious debate about HSC's housing strategy, Keeler Street was retained as an area to be developed despite the serious problems in the area, including inadequate public transport, parks and recreation areas, sewer, drainage, schools, traffic management, local health and emergency services, off street parking, etc.
At the time Hornsby Shire Council and relevant state authorities had advised Epping Trust that "no development should occur until the necessary infrastructure is in place". 
One hopes that these two DAs will be delayed on that basis, but there is little evidence of precedents supporting that hope.


On 2 April 2012 representatives of the Trust attended a briefing on developments with the RailLink from Brendan Blakeley, Peter Bourke and Cecilia Densham of Transport NSW. Also present were representatives of Hornsby Shire Council including Councillor Robert Browne.
The Environmental Impact Statement process will take place in two stages, the first dealing with major construction work (on exhibition from 4 April) and the second with track laying, operating systems, the stations and their surrounding areas (to go on exhibition in about six months).
Our briefing dealt in some detail with proposals affecting the area around Cheltenham Oval as this is the only area in Beecroft and Cheltenham directly impacted by the proposal. An area will be required to provide emergency access, particularly for fire fighting, to the four kilometre tunnel between Epping station and Cherrybrook station. The affected area will be used as a work site during the construction of the project, specifically to enable construction of the necessary emergency services access to the rail tunnel, and will entail a two-way access road for heavy vehicles running from Kirkham Street immediately north of and parallel to the M2 alignment the west of the Oval where a construction compound will be located on the present netball courts. There will also be access for light vehicles from Castle Howard Rd along an existing road reserve on the western side of houses. Construction of the heavy vehicle access will require clearing of existing bush along the route.
There will now be no ventilation shaft, as one was earlier proposed in Beecroft.  The EIS will recommend one shaft only near the corner of Epping and Carlingford Rd instead.

A plan was produced at the meeting, but is not yet available for public release. The EIS contains the detailed plan of the proposal.
The Transport NSW representatives made clear that some 19 sites were considered before the Cheltenham site was selected. Mr Blakeley commented that it was the best of a collection of bad sites, all the others having significantly more problems for either construction, access or environmental issues. The Cheltenham site is one of the few that allows virtually direct access to the rail tunnel 35 metres below.
At the completion of the work the site will be rehabilitated, with only a kiosk giving access to the emergency stairs and an area of hard standing adjacent to it. Vehicular access to a standard specified by the NSW Fire Brigades will be required, but it is not yet clear whether this will be from Kirkham Street or Castle Howard Road. There will be regular vehicle movements onto and off the site during construction, but thereafter there will only be vehicles coming to the site for routine maintenance purposes and in the event of an emergency in the rail tunnel.
It was made clear to the Transport NSW representatives that the community would not be happy with the destruction of bushland for the heavy access, and they agreed to pursue more avenues to minimise this impact (notably to investigate whether the access road can be run either wholly or partly within the M2 reservation, although there are topographical difficulties with that). There is also potential for traffic problems with trucks leaving the site, as it is proposed that they should turn into Kirkham Street and proceed to Beecroft Road. Councillor Browne raised the longstanding need for traffic lights at Kirkham St/Beecroft Road intersection.  The Transport NSW representatives agreed to give consideration to the installation of traffic lights at the intersection to assist to relieve traffic congestion at that point.  Councillor Browne also raised the issue of the loss of the netball courts during the construction period and said Council is likely to request replacement courts elsewhere in the shire. 
As indicated above, the first stage of the EIS is now on exhibition. Public information sessions are to be held as follows:
Thursday 26 April 2012: Epping Club, 45-47 Rawson Street, Epping. 4pm – 8pm
Saturday 28 April: Rouse Hill Town Centre, 10-14 Market Lane, Rouse Hill. 10am – 2pm.
Thursday 3 May: North West Rail Link Community Information Centre, 299 Old Northern Road, Castle Hill. 4pm – 8pm.
Saturday 5 May: Cherrybrook Uniting Church, 134 New Line Road, Cherrybrook. 10am – 2pm.
Tuesday 8 May: Crowne Plaza, 1 Columbia Court, Baulkham Hills. 4pm – 7pm.
Experts in specific topics will host additional sessions at the North West Rail Link Community Information Centre, 299 Old Northern Road, Castle Hill, as follows:
Noise and vibration: Thursday 12 April, 6pm – 8pm.
Construction traffic: Thursday 19 April, 6pm – 8pm.
Construction methods: Thursday 10 May, 6pm – 8pm.
The full EIS documentation can be viewed at the Department of Planning and Infrastructure Information centre, 23-33 Bridge Street, Sydney; the North West Rail Link Community Information Centre, 299 Old Northern Road, Castle Hill; the Nature Conservation Council, Level 2, 5 Wilson Street, Newtown; Hornsby Shire Council office and Council libraries at Pennant Hills, Epping and Hornsby; Hills Shire Council office and Council libraries at Castle Hill, Vinegar Hill and Baulkham Hills; and Blacktown City Council office and Council libraries at Blacktown and Stanhope Gardens.
Further information (but not a copy of the EIS) is available at
The Trust will be making a submission on the EIS. It will be available on the Trust’s website when it is complete.

NWRL Access to Cheltenham Oval

Trust Committee members attended a Pre-EIS meeting on 2 April, where we were advised that the NWRL service facility planned to the north of the Cheltenham Oval will be the main emergency access route into the tunnel in the event of a fire or other calamity.  Because of that, access to fire engines and other emergency vehicles will be required.  The present intention is to cut a concreted road through the bush from the eastern end of the Murray Farm Bridge over the M2 through to the service facility on the Oval!
The NWRL project clearly recognised that this will be unpopular, but at least we are being advised in time to register protests.
The full report from the attendees is in the next post.

AGM Guest Speaker - Rail Freight Corridor Project

There were complaints after the AGM about the way questions on the RFC were limited.  Those people should refer to the original post, of 7 March, where we stressed that the speaker would not be able to talk on issues of existing rolling stock, existing noise and pollution, or weed control in the corridor, as these are all state rail matters.  It was disappointing that some members of the audience got quite aggressive when the speaker tried to stick to his remit, and the Committee tried to enforce the agreement that had been reached with the RFC about what questions would be allowed.
We have thanked the RFC for their offer to give this presentation and so make our members aware of the likely evolution of the project.  We hope that their reception at this meeting will not disuade them from such open communications in the future.
The Committee intends to have another Open Meeting, like the one held last October in which development issues including the Beecroft Shopping Village were discussed.  This next meeting will propbably be in July or August of this year, and we hope to make the RFC a significant element of that meeting, unless other even bigger issues have arisen by then.