A small section of Sydney Park that was cleared to widen Campbell Street St Peters for WestConnex.

130,000 hectares of vegetation, including trees, has been lost to the construction of Stage 3 of WestConnex along the 7.5-kilometre tunnels between Haberfield & St Peters.  Sydney Park took a severe battering losing more then 500 trees.

In 2016 Roads & Maritine Services said that they would plant 3,500 replacement trees of a minimum pot size of 75 litres.  The trees would be about 3-metres or taller in size.  However, they have changed their mind allowing replacement trees of 150 mm pot size, “in pots as tall as a Bic-brand ballpoints…”  See – http://bit.ly/2AiHsmn

“The RMS’ revised tree policy says only 500 trees will now be 75 litres; it argues there is simply not space for all trees to be as big as its initial commitment.”

The remaining 3,000 trees to be planted will be saplings.  My observation over the years is that saplings have a much harder time surviving than do more advanced size trees, so there is a big chance a large percentage of these trees will be lost.  Saplings are more sensitive to lack of water & they are also easier to vandalize.  They will be small enough for people to tread on them or simply snap their trunks.  If they do survive it will take years for these saplings to grow to a size where their risk is lower.

If as they say, “there is simply not space for all trees to be as big as its initial commitment,” what will happen in the unlikely event that all 3,000 saplings survive & grow to a decent size?  The government’s argument does not seem logical.  If you say you cannot fit in all the trees, why would planting saplings help the issue?

I think this change is being done to save money, yet the lack of decent size trees will have a cost on the community in terms of negative health impacts from the poor air quality produced by the thousands of vehicles that will use this motorway every day.  The very least the community needs is trees.  Filtered smoke stacks are essential too, but so far, this is not happening either.

There is a kind of despair I have noticed in my local community whenever WestConnex is raised.  People are angry that whole communities are being demolished & separated for this motorway.  It’s like a giant iron snake cleaving its way through the inner west & its source of nutrition is houses & trees.  If we do have to have this polluting road, then at least it should be hidden behind a bank of trees to not make the residents a further casualty in terms of loss of health.

There has been an abundance of research of late all showing how necessary trees are for human health.  Particulate matter spewed out in vehicle exhaust causes irritated eyes, nose & throat, heart & lung disease, including asthma & chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, increased hospital admissions & a reduction in life expectancy.  This is what the NSW government is gifting the people of the inner west if they do not plant sufficient trees to help mitigate the impact of this motorway.  I would argue that there will be a negative health impact of the motorway anyway, but to not plant decent sized trees is just asking for trouble.

A section of the tree removal in Sydney Park for WestConnex