The Perth Freight Link is a $1.6 billion project to construct 14km of freight freeway through our communities and bushland, including the “Roe 8” extension through Beeliar Wetlands.
If this senseless road goes ahead, it will permanently destroy a 5km green corridor containing endangered Banksia woodland, wildlife habitat and Aboriginal heritage sites, all too precious to lose.
Environmental approvals for the Roe 8 section of the Perth Freight Link have been granted, building contracts awarded to Leighton Contractors, and although the enourmous community opposition has managed to slow progress on this road-to-nowhere, Colin Barnett is now threatening to sign these contracts and lock WA taxpayers into millions of dollars before the state election in March 2017.
Meanwhile the Barnett Government's increasingly incoherent freight link strategy continues to unravel. Major questions remain, including the final route the freeway will take, how it will cross the Swan River or connect to the port and what the impact will be on the houses, suburbs and streets throughout the region.
The WA Government has consistently hidden details about the project, refuses to release the business case, and yet the state and federal governments have committed $1.6 billion of taxpayer's money with no detailed plans or analysis. Premier Barnett refused to attend the Senate Inquiry or allow Main Roads officials to provide answers to the questions and concerns from locals and stakeholders.
What has Barnett got to hide?
Over the past 2 years our office has submitted 10 Freedom of Information Requests, stood in Parliament 6 times requesting Orders of Production for Documents relating to the Perth Freight Link and asked numerous Questions on Notice to Ministers of the Abbott/Turnbull Government. Time and again the public has been refused access to these documents, including the business case and cost benefit analysis. (You can view a full list of these document requests below.)
All of this secrecy begs the question, what exactly does the Barnett Government have to hide?
The Legal Fight Continues....
The legal battles between the community and The Barnett Government continue with community campaigners now taking their case to the High Court.
In December 2015, the Western Australian Supreme Court made a historic determination that found the EPA report and recommendations for Roe 8 were invalid. The Court found that the EPA ignored its own policy and the unacceptable impacts on Conservation Category Wetlands and critical habitat for federally listed endangered species. This effectively rendered the State Government approvals invalid.
The court decision cast serious doubt, not only the credibility of the Western Australian EPA, but also the Federal environmental approvals for Roe 8, which were also based on the same flawed EPA assessment.
The Barnett Government appealed this decision and unfortunately, in July 2016, won that appeal.
So the fight against the Perth Freight Link continues as the community campaigners take the next step and bring their case to the High Court.
Why fight for the wetlands
More than 80% of Perth’s wetlands have been lost. We cannot afford to lose anymore.
The Beeliar wetlands is an important haven for at least 134 species of bird, four native mammals, two introduced mammals, eight amphibians, 20 reptiles and a , diverse range of plant species in the Perth metropolitan area.
Roe 8 will put endangered species like the Carnaby Cockatoo at further risk. The Beeliar Wetlands also host international migratory birds that are protected under International Government Agreements. This unique and sensitive biodiversity of the area cannot be recreated through offsets.
The area is also of great historic and ongoing cultural significance to the Noongar community. There are registered archaeological and mythological sites in North and Bibra Lakes that any alignment of Roe 8 will destroy. In 2003, the EPA said “It has been identified as being the most significant historical site, within the Perth metropolitan region, south of the Swan River”. North Lake and Bibra Lake have interim listing on the National Estate of the Australian Heritage Commission because of their environmental and heritage significance.
This affects all of Perth
The Perth Freight Link will be Perth’s first toll road. This will set a precedent for other road projects in WA and it is sure not to be the last toll road Western Australians can expect if it goes ahead.
Roe 8 will also increase our carbon emissions and diesel particulate pollution.
Mixing heavy freight vehicles with private vehicles also adds to safety concerns that could be avoided if more freight was moved by rail or an outer harbour was constructed so that freight circled the city rather than went through it.
As well as putting our metropolitan biodiversity and heritage at risk, this unnecessary road to nowhere is taking much needed state and federal funds from much more necessary public transport projects.
In the same week they awarded the Perth Freight Link project, the Barnett Government cancelled a $1.2 billion order for additional train carriages. These additional train carriages would have a far greater impact on reducing congestion than the Perth Freight Link.
The Max Light Rail and rail extension to Perth Airport and Forrestfield have also been put on hold while they push ahead with this road to nowhere.
What We Do Know about the Freight Link
· It will lead to a four-fold increase in the number of trucks on our roads, with truck traffic in Fremantle and surrounding suburbs increasing from 3000 a day to 13,000 a day.
· It is contrary to decades of regional planning and shelves plans for the Outer Harbour.
· It undermines the aspirations to get at least 30% of freight on rail.
· It will be WAs first toll road.
· It will increase greenhouse gas emissions and deadly diesel particulate pollution.
· It will hurt businesses along Stock Road who will end up with a freeway at their door.
· There are over 30 community groups, 4 local councils, numerous industry groups and thousands of WA residents who are part of the growing opposition to this road.
Here are submissions made to the first EPA appeal back in 2013.