My name is Ian Hundley and I very much appreciate the opportunity to say a few words this morning. I campaign against the North East Link principally as a member of the Stop North East Link Alliance. As Greg and Kelvin have highlighted, canopy tree cover in Melbourne is in a critical state. An urban forest with about 30% cover is central to offsetting the effects of climate change. The annualized loss of 1-1.5% in canopy cover that is now occurring is alarming. It is so obvious that the Victorian government’s land use planning and building regulation framework is failing.
Here, in the transport space, the Victorian government has removed many trees in its endeavor to deliver former premier Henry Bolte’s 50-year-old policy to build the North East Link. However, when Henry Bolte was around the threat of climate change was unrecognised.
As the Victorian government should understand, but does not admit, freeways like North East Link inevitably mean the loss of canopy trees and other vegetation. This is because a motor vehicle-dominated transport system is a chronic over-user and abuser of urban space in a way that public and active transport are not.
The big myth sold by the Andrews government is that the North East Link would relieve local traffic congestion. Yet, they are already moving to duplicate Templestowe Road. The massive widening of Fitzsimmons Lane is nearing completion. And there would be more to follow.
Environmental damage is now in prospect in the Yarra River Flats at Bulleen in anticipation of tunnelling work, and in the context of climate change- induced flood events. The soil is reportedly polluted. It may be asked, is it planned to build a wall, to protect the tunnel, along the lines of the one built a few years ago to protect Flemington Racecourse?
There are no guarantees, but contesting the North East Link is a fight worth having. If it’s not won, the North East Link will be with us forever.
Thank you very much.