Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

The proposed Bells Line Super-highway

There have been many super-highway schemes proposed through the Blue Mountains. One was through the Blue Labyrinth, another for a tunnel under the Mountains and a third for a road passing north behind the towns through the National Park. The current proposal, at a cost of at least $3 billion, uses tunnels commencing at Richmond, roughly follows the Bells Line of Road but diverts at Clarence over Newnes Plateau to meet the Great Western Highway north of Lithgow. In June 2000, the consulting firm, Maunsell McIntyre, reported the scheme to be grossly uneconomic. Undeterred, the road's proponents produced a two million dollar feasibility study for a four-lane highway in 2005 by another consultant, SKP, which again found the proposal to be uneconomic because the vast majority of Mountains traffic is local, not through traffic.

The proposal would seriously damage World Heritage listed national parks. The marvelous canyon lands of the Grose and Wollemi Wilderness areas either side of the proposed super-road would be choked with sediment. Tourism, cultural heritage, endangered shale forest communities would be bulldozed; and private and national park land would need to be acquired. Where the proposed super-highway crosses the Newnes Plateau it would impact upon nationally endangered shrub swamps, Lithgow’s water supply and significant pagoda landscapes.

The new road would ruin the charming scenic drive on a forest and fern lined road with spectacular vistas of unspoilt wilderness and pleasant stops to buy flowers, fruit and local produce at local stalls. The current Bells Line of Road is a delightful alternative to the Western Highway and a boon to local tourism.

Building a super highway would only encourage urban sprawl, ruin the Bilpin area and compromise the World Heritage. Pursuing expensive major highways in rugged terrain is an outmoded transport policy that increases greenhouse emissions and 'locks in' our future dependence on foreign oil.
The best solution is to spend money to upgrade rail and road access where people live, rather than on an obscene monumental road that would be little used, except by increasingly unaffordable road freighters, that should be loaded onto an integrated system for the benefit everyone.

Copyright - The Colong Foundation for Wilderness Ltd

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