Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Superhighway plan demonstrates no leadership for protection of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Wilderness

Last week Opposition Leader, Peter Debnam announced the Coalition’s support for priority construction of the Bell Line superhighway proposal. This announcement greatly increases the risk that this damaging and expensive proposal could be built.

“Labor should now show leadership and commonsense by rejecting the Bells superhighway proposal. Its finger pointing at unfunded promises is just quibbling on the sideline,” said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“I am amazed that the Coalition Parties persists in supporting the superhighway scheme. This proposed 94 kilometre proposal would be actually make the economics of Sydney’s cross-city tunnel look good! It would be a $3.3 billion financial black hole that encourages unsustainable urban sprawl at the expense of taxpayers and the environment”, Mr Muir said.

“The proposed new expressway would adversely impact on the local Hawkesbury and Kurrajong community. The charming scenic drive on a forest lined road with spectacular vistas of unspoilt wilderness and its pleasant wayside stops to buy local produce would be lost under cement”, Mr Muir said.

“Like latter-day pharaohs, today’s politicians seem happiest when pouring our money into these concrete monuments, while we have to slave away to support this wasted common wealth.

“Doesn’t Debnam realise that the vast majority of the vehicle movements in the Mountains are local, not through traffic? This proposed superhighway wouldn’t serve any current need,” said Mr Muir.

“The detailed June 2000, Maunsell McIntyre report damned the Bells superhighway proposal as grossly uneconomic. No amount of urban sprawl west of the Mountains and development boosterism could make the project economically viable. But then, unlike any other development, roads don’t need to be viable to be funded,” he said.

“There are many arguments against this proposed road, apart from dry economics. It would not only damage the World Heritage listed Grose and Wollemi Wilderness areas, but also impact on tourism, bulldoze cultural heritage, clear endangered shale forest communities and require the acquisition of national park land. Where the proposed superhighway passes over the Newnes Plateau it would impact upon nationally endangered shrub swamps, cut through Lithgow’s water supply and the outstanding scenery in the western Blue Mountains”, Mr Muir said.
“Its time for all major political parties to drop this Bells superhighway nonsense for the benefit of a few trucks and commuters. The current Bells Line of Road should remain a delightful alternative to the Western Highway”, Mr Muir said.

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9299 7341 (wk) or 9550 3615 (ah)