Adjournment: Suburban Rail Loop
My adjournment matter tonight is for the Minister for Transport Infrastructure, and my ask is that she commissions a comprehensive investigation into alternative sites for the Suburban Rail Loop stabling yard.
Like the local council and community, I was disappointed to see earlier this month that the minister for environment and climate change approved the EES for the Suburban Rail Loop. The approval means the train stabling yard for the loop will go ahead at the Delta site in Heatherton.
The Delta site is an inappropriate location for a stabling yard, for multiple reasons pointed out many times by the community and by members in this chamber. It is located in Kingston’s green wedge zone, which is designed to protect our precious green and open space in the outer suburbs from inappropriate developments exactly like this one.
It’s part of the long-promised chain of parks, which will transform ex-industrial and landfill sites into a series of linked parks, providing much-needed green open space in Melbourne’s south-east. The chain of parks will also provide new recreational and sporting facilities, one of which was recently proposed for the Heatherton Delta site.
Turning the Delta site into the stabling yards will result in the destruction of almost 35 hectares of green wedge land and prevent the land from ever being used for parks and recreational space. Instead, the site will be home to 34 trains, including a train maintenance facility and operations centre, and ongoing tunnel boring and dirt extraction while the tunnel is constructed.
The site shares a boundary with both the proposed new parkland and a number of residential and commercial areas. The site’s neighbours will now experience ongoing noise and light pollution, ongoing vibration issues, dust issues due to dirt extraction from the tunnelling and, most importantly, loss of amenity and quality of life for what is currently a quiet semi-rural area. Many residents have chosen to live in Heatherton because of its promise of significant green open space; instead, they will now be living with the industrial dust and truck traffic that the chain of parks were designed to eliminate.
The community is opposed. The local council is opposed. Yet the government continues to insist this is the most appropriate location for the new stabling yards. It’s particularly frustrating as the community has identified a viable alternative nearby, in the Moorabbin industrial area, but the government has refused to fully consider it.
The EES process also failed to investigate whether the yard could be located at an alternative site, claiming it was outside the scope of the assessment process.
The Suburban Rail Loop’s inquiry and advisory committee report noted that the use of the Delta site for the stabling yards would only be acceptable if a replacement area is identified and acquired for the chain of parks. It also found that more comprehensive, prescriptive and targeted mitigation measures than those proposed in the EES would need to be undertaken to address loss of amenity and related impacts. The IAC concluded by noting ‘if these concerns are not addressed, the Proponent should continue to investigate alternative sites for the Stabling Facility’.
It is clear that the process so far has completely failed the Heatherton community. I ask the minister to immediately begin a comprehensive investigation into alternate sites for the stabling facility, including the Moorabbin industrial area site.