The Minister for Public Transport, Terry Mulder announced today that track works for the Regional Rail Link would begin on 1st July.
Affected residents and traders in the Footscray rail corridor were stunned to hear this news given that we understood works would not commence until final planning permissions are received from the Planning Minister.
Apparently, the RRL Authority has declared the July package of works to be 'preparatory works', outside the main body of work needing approval. We imagined that 'preparatory works' might involve a bit of field testing and surveying, not major works requiring an unprecedented 2-week shutdown of an entire suburban rail line.
What are our concerns about this? Apart from the fact that the RRL Authority has, once again, chosen to communicate with us via the media, we are worried that the RRL Authority is seeking to exempt large slabs of the project from proper planning overview and regulation.
The Planning Minister is presently awaiting a detailed noise and vibration report and an environmental management strategy from the RRL Authority before he issues the project planning approval. The RRL Authority were caught out attempting to downplay the noise and pollution impacts with their original assessments and were obliged by the Planning Minster to resubmit proper, peer-reviewed reports. The classification of large project work packages, like the July track realignment work, as 'preparatory works' means the effective bypassing of this process.
We would like to know what other parcels of work will fall under the 'preparatory works' banner? The RRLA has revealed that the demolition of acquired houses and commercial buildings also falls into this category. We wait with interest to find out what else will be included.
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