Transport for NSW has used State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007, which applies in all areas of NSW, to forge ahead with the rail maintenance facility in sensitive E2 and E3 land at Kangy Angy.
“In our battles to stop the railways from invading our rural area, we identified that it was classified E2 and E3, which is an Environment Protection Zone,” said Tony Caldersmith of the Kangy Angy Residents Action Group (KARAG).
“One of the zone objectives is to ‘to protect, manage and restore areas of high ecological values’, which prohibits any residential or industrial development in an E2 or E3 area,” he said.
“With the University of Newcastle, we had established that the area was occupied by some relatively rare creatures including the recently discovered Mahoney’s Toadlet.
“However, the Railways went ahead anyway, and I enquired about their ability to ignore the State classification,” he said.
Caldersmith consulted the Community Environment Network (CEN) about how it was possible to clear and develop on E2 and E3 land without consent.
“As correctly stated, most of the site is zoned E2 Environmental Conservation under Wyong LEP 2013,” said Michael Conroy, CEN executive member.
“On page 10 of the State Infrastructure Strategy (SIS), the four objectives of this zone are quoted, and they include ‘to protect endangered ecological communities, coastal wetlands and littoral rainforests’,” he said.
“If this was the only environmental planning instrument applying to the site, the maintenance facility would not be permissible under that zoning.
“Unfortunately, in this case, there is a State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007.
“The aim of this Policy is ‘to facilitate the effective delivery of infrastructure across the State’, and it does this by overriding the planning controls that apply in local environmental plans, including Wyong LEP 2013.
“Clause 79 of the State Environmental Planning Policy provides that ‘development for the purpose of a railway or rail infrastructure facility may be carried out by or on behalf of a public authority without consent on any land (except in a national park)’.
“The term rail infrastructure facility includes facility for the assembly, maintenance and stabling of rolling stock.
“So the State Rail maintenance facility is permissible on any site in the former Wyong Council area and does not require development consent.
“Since the development does not require development consent, it needed to be assessed under Part 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act.
“Transport for NSW, as the proponent, made the decision to prepare a Review of Environmental Factors, which turned out to be rather inadequate because of the endangered ecological communities on the site.
“It is arguable that they should have done a full Environmental Impact Statement from the start, although an unbiased and thorough environmental assessment would not have selected Kangy Angy as the most suitable site on the Central Coast,” he said.
“The plans they gave us in their handout were tiny little plans on a very small scale and you couldn’t really tell what was going to happen,” said Tony Caldersmith.
“But now, when I walk out my front door and look across the road, there is a big clearance where the power lines are going, and if you go up to where they are laying it out for the facility, it is a massive wasteland.
“I think the people along Orchard Rd will find it much more in their face than they thought and they are going to get a shock when it starts to go up.
“I think you will find the railways have covered themselves, in that there is so little detail in the sketches they gave us, you could never say they were wrong.
“South towards Ourimbah, where the trains coming from Gosford will have to peel off, and they need a little room to do that, we had lovely bushland and that is a wasteland now.
“Much of what we are talking about is wetland, particularly the area up from Ourimbah Rd.
“The terribly sad thing about it is that it does not fit any of the railways specifications, they wanted it north of Wyong, they wanted it to avoid fast train tracks, they wanted it to be in quiet rail area, between Wyong and Wyee.
“I think there is a missing story in there.
“How the property manager chose Kangy Angy is beyond me.
“The only documentary evidence we have is an email to Transport for NSW suggesting Kangy Angy.
“We cannot tell how high it will be yet because we don’t know the actual rail levels yet, but we also don’t know how much further clearance they will do.
“It is not hard to see that it is crazy and they never refute the obvious facts like why they didn’t go to the obvious options.
“We put down very clear arguments and we have never ever had an answer from them.”
Tracey Stewart of KARAG said both Transport for NSW and John Holland had stated that works would not impact on any creek line, but she said the contractor has now built a make-shift crossing over Bangalow Creek that definitely impacts on the waterway.
She said she believed this was yet another example of the project morphing into something bigger than the residents had ever been consulted about.
Interview, Jul 23
Tony Caldersmith, KARAG
Media statement, Jul 23
Michael Conroy, Community Environment Network
Jackie Pearson, journalist