Melburnians should be celebrating today (10/12/2015) with the announcement that two more nails have been driven into the coffin of the East West Link Toll Road project. Here is why:
I Exemptions for East West Link Project Deleted from Royal Park Heritage Registration by Heritage Council of Victoria
The Heritage Council of Victoria announced a decision which was made on 3 December 2015 and communicated yesterday to amend the existing registration of Royal Park on the State Heritage Register to remove the permit exemptions associated with the cancelled East West Link project. (These had been introduced by the former Minister for Planning Matthew Guy.)
The reason given by Mr. Tim Smith, Executive Director of Heritage Victoria, in his recommendation to the Heritage Council on 11 September 2015, reads as follows: “Royal Park was included in the Victorian Heritage Register in October 2014 with permit exemptions to facilitate the construction of the East West Link. The project is no longer proceeding and it is proposed to remove these permit exemptions.”
As you can see the Heritage Council apparently delayed acting on Mr. Smith’s recommendation for some months.Nevertheless we commend the Council for the decision. This makes it even more difficult for the State Coalition to resurrect the East West Link project if returned to power.
Thanks to all community and professional organisations who labored long in making submissions firstly to have Royal Park included in the State Heritage Register and then to have the exemptions for construction of the East West Link Toll Road through Royal Park deleted.
II Damning Report by State Auditor General on Former State Government’s Handling of the Contracts for the East West Link
Many people do not realise that not only had the former Treasurer signed contracts (he sais it was the former Transport Minister) for the East West Link but work had already started on the project well before the election. Engineers and surveyors, some apparently imported under 457 visas from foreign lands, were attempting to work in Royal Park by marking out routes of construction roads and designating trees for clearance at the site of the tunnel entrance.
The week before the election on 29 November 2014 these workers were bailed up in the carpark of the State Netball and Hockey Centre in Royal Park and stopped from working by a peaceful community blockade. Thanks go to the Tunnel Picket group and residents who arrived early in the morning on the scene each day. PPL VIC’s lawyer sent desist notices to the company managing the project. It was pointed out that work should not start while three cases on the East West Link were still being heard in the Supreme Court. If it were not for the intervention of the community to halt work who knows what damage might have been inflicted on Royal Park in the name of the East West Link before the 29 November election.