Is the Community justified in protesting against the plans of WestConnex to construct multiple lane toll roads surrounding Sydney Park and appropriateness of the strategy for resisting the change?
Today we are living in an era where unprecedented expansion of highways and roads is taking place. It is an era where several of the last tropical wildernesses of the world, right from the Amazon to the Congo Basin are being increasingly penetrated by roads. Such a surge in building roads and highways is being driven not only with the view to expand the infrastructure but also for obtaining minerals, gas, oil and timber for industrial usage (Environment 360, 2012). An example of this can be seen in our won country also where plans have been made by WestConnex to obtain huge swathes of parkland which belongs to the Sydney Park and then construct multiple lane toll roads surrounding it. However, there is an increasing awareness among the community to save our natural environment due to which it is coming together for fighting this plan and resisting the changes that it will bring about.
Justification for the Resistance by the Community
Parks are among the vital resources for any community and they provide assistance to the people in bringing about improvements in their health (Bedimo-Rung et al., 2005) (Mowen, Kaczynski, & Cohen, 2008). Parks also provide the people with a safe place wherein they can take walks, engage in socialising activities with their friends and even involve themselves in playing different types of sports. A number of studies which have been carried out in the past have revealed that a growing number of people are taking part in recreational activities outdoors in the parks (Cordell et al., 2008). Additionally, it will end up destroying the fauna and flora of the parks, thus disturbing the ecosystem. If these parks are destroyed for the purposes of building roads, people will not be able to engage in the above activities and also lose a variety of fauna and flora. This is particularly true in the case of the Sydney Park it will signify that large eucalypts stand along with various other native species in the park will be uprooted and the local fauna which includes two Tawney Frogmouth owls that nest in the trees would be displaced. Hence, an aggressive policy is needed for a future that is not only more sustainable but also greener. This can be achieved by protecting our parks as well as open spaces. I feel the community has taken the correct step in rallying together to protect the Sydney Park.
Australia seems to have a “hideously inefficient, gambler’s addiction” to roads and this is. Although, this statement was made in an Australian report on infrastructure recently, the Liberal-National Government of NSW is leading the pack with the likes of NorthConnex, WestConnex amd others to build roads by destroying the parks. We are all aware of the fact that the massive motorways with multiple lanes and toll roads will not be able to provide a solution to the transport problems but they will end up creating a higher degree of air pollution and also go on to enhance congestion by induction of increased traffic and will ultimately lead to massive devastation of the environment by destroying the precious wetlands, bushlands and green spaces. This will not only cause a loss of trees along with the “urban green canopies” that are much required in a world that is climate constrained. It will also exacerbate climate change by increasing emissions of greenhouse gases from the increased number of cars that will be plying on the roads. Therefore, it is very essential for the people to come together and protest in order to save the Sydney Park from destruction.
A report released by OECD in 2014 had estimated that the largest cause of premature deaths is air pollution and nearly 50% of these deaths that were a result of outdoor air pollution which was mainly due to road transport (OECD, 2016). The deaths related to air pollution however, declined in many OECD nations but an increase of 68% was registered in Australia (OECD, 2016). In the case of the Sydney Park also, the growth of infrastructure will have adverse consequences. WestConnex tunnel stacks will make additions to nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter and toxic carbon monoxide that will spew into the areas that are densely populated. Geotechnical drilling in order to search for water pipes and electrical cables underground on the Euston Road for constructing compound is being planned. The site is also expected to be accommodating heavy vehicles and will be worsening the area’s problems regarding traffic congestion (Stop WestConnex, 2016). Most of the vehicles are expected to continue using the Parramatta road as well as other local roads even after the widening of the road and levying tolls. Even if the tunnels are used, all the vehicles will be exiting the tunnels to join the local streets that are already congested, bringing traffic to a standstill. This will lead to further increase in congestion. All these suggest that there is no justification of building a motorway by destroying the Sydney Park and people are right in putting up a resistance.
(The Greens, 2016)
Appropriateness of the Strategy adopted for Resistance
The discussion carried out above shows that the changes are being proposed in the Sydney Park just for the fulfilment of the narrow mandates of the political parties and they are not at all justified. The transport plan of the Government is not after all a transport plan and the planning as well as implementation would have been considered appropriate if the focus would have been on building a multi-modal transport which was climate friendly so that the city could be made livable and sustainable. Here roads are being built by WestConnex just for the purpose of building more roads and the addiction of the Government to build roads. The private toll companies and along with the inmates that they have in the Liberal Party will be the only winners. The environment is being destroyed and taxpayers’ money worth billions of dollars is being used for enhancing the profits which the private companies earn. The community and not the politicians will end up paying a heavy price for this. The community is correct in coming together and resisting these changes (The Greens, 2016).
(The Greens, 2016)
The strategy that the community members along with the anti-WestConnex local campaigners have adopted is to camp on the site and protest. Their campaign was supported by Jenny Leong, the Greens MP from Newtown and Clover Moore, the Lord Mayor of Sydney. Together they stopped the first bulldozer from causing destruction to the Sydney park. They established a protest campsite. However, this was raided later at 3am in the night by WestConnex and Redfern police and the protestors were pulled out even though they had been given assurance that they would not be pulled out during the night. However, this has not deterred the people from protesting and the camp is increasing with more people joining the protest. The community has been protesting in a peaceful manner. They put up a camping blockade of 24 hours for stopping the work that was linked to the interchange of WestConnex as St. Peters (O’Rourke, 2016). The protestors also vowed that they will camp for eight weeks for stopping the “Sydney Motorway Corporation” from removing numerous mature trees for widening the road on the Sydney Park’s Eastern side. Such a peaceful protest does not cause harm to anyone (Welsh, 2010). On the other hand it also achieved the objective of stopping the WestConnex bulldozers from destroying the park. According to me, adoption of peaceful means is the best way of protesting against a wrong-doing.
The construction of the multiple lane toll road surrounding the Sydney Park will not only destroy the beauty of the park but also destroy and displace the flora and fauna of the park. This will disturb the ecosystem. Additionally, the construction will lead to an increase in pollution as well as congestion in the area. Such a type of construction is not sustainable and will be benefitting only the private companies who will be earning increased profits. The community will not be deriving any benefits from it. Therefore, there is a need to build road transport and infrastructure that is sustainable and which has the ability of making the city more livable. The community is doing the correct thing in rallying against WestConnex so that the Sydney Park can be protected and the people can be saved from increased traffic and pollution. The resistance is being put up in a peaceful manner which is a very good strategy in itself and such efforts are needed for the successful achievement of the community objectives.
(O'Connor, L., 2015)
Alcock, J., 2015. WestConnex protest brings 1500 Newtown locals out to voice their objections. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 18 October 2016].
Bedimo-Rung, A.L., Mowen, A.J. & Cohen, D.A., 2005. The significance of parks to physical activity and public health: a conceptual model. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, pp.159-68.
Cordell, H.K., Berz, C.J. & G.T., G., 2008. Nature-based outdoor ecreation trends and wilderness. International Journal of Wilderness, pp.7-13.
Environment 360, 2012. As Roads Spread in Rainforests. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 11 October 2016].
Mowen, A., Kaczynski, A. & Cohen, D.A., 2008. The potential of parks and recreation in addressing physical activity and fitness. Pres Counc Phys Fit Sports Res Dig. , pp.1-7.
O’Rourke, J., 2016. Clover Moore supports protesters at 24-hour-a-day camping blockade to stop work linked to WestConnex interchange at St Peters. News Local, 19 September.
O'Connor, L., 2015. Protesters: Monster motorway will destroy King Street. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 18 October 2016].
OECD, 2016. The Cost of Air Pollution: Health Impacts of Road Transport. OECD.
OECD, 2016. The economic consequences of outdoor air pollution. [Online] OECD Available at: [Accessed 11 October 2016].
Saulwick, J., 2015. Builders locked in for St Peters WestConnex motorway interchange. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 18 October 2016].
Stop WestConnex, 2016. News: Sydney Park protest camp established and stops bulldozers. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 11 October 2016].
The Greens, 2016. Save Sydney Park Festival. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 18 October 2016].
The Greens, 2016. SPEECH TO “WESTCONNEX: DRIVING SYDNEY TO DESTRUCTION”. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 11 October 2016].
The Greens, 2016. Stop WestConnex. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 18 October 2016].
Welsh, I., 2010. Strategies for Resistance and Change. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 11 October 2016].