Moorebank intermodal

Since former Greens MLC Sylvia Hale first raised the flag on the Moorebank intermodal proposal almost a decade ago the Greens have been consistently calling for community consultation and careful consideration of the problems that accompany such a massive infrastructure.

The intermodal proposal has been a platform of both the Liberals under Howard and the subsequent Labor governments. The Liberal Party have never rescinded their support for the proposal, despite their local State and Federal MPs screaming large and loud, and in fact the latest statement from the Federal Liberal Party is not that they oppose the site going ahead, but that they want it in private, not public hands (7 May, 2012).

The intent behind the intermodal concept is to make it simpler to freight materials and goods to one location, enabling the use of rail as a major transport option. The Greens support the use of rail as a mechanism for taking heavy-haulage vehicles off the roads, reducing the risk factor and potentially the pollution impact, however things are never 'black-and-white', and for all the benefits that come with the facility (potential jobs, road safety etc.) there are massive downsides that cause enormous impact.

Among the problems with the current project is that all the freight will be transported on old-generation diesel locomotives, creating extreme amounts of particulate pollution. Many engines are decades old and do not conform to international standards - in fact NSW does not actually have effective standards!

As well as the pollution from the outdated locos, there will be a massive amount of small freight movements to and from the Moorebank facility, so whil the larger trucks will be removed, smaller more numerous trips will be made to a single site smack in the middle of a residential area. This means that the purported gains to traffic flow on the M5 will be just a pipe-dream, and therefore the impact will not just be on the people of Wattle Grove.

Other issues include the noise impact of a 24/7 facility, and the potential for light cascading to local areas. All of these things are bad enough in themselves, but the potential for damage to the environment, and especially to the very sensitive Georges River is too great to risk.

The Greens believe that the benefits of distribution by rail can be achieved without concentration of the freight in a single location. Our proposal is that a network of intermodal hubs be set up outside the Sydney metropolitan area, and serviced by inflows through Port Kembla and Newcastle as well as Port Botany.

The following is the recent press release from Greens Senator, Lee Rhiannon after her questions to the Senate Estimates Committee on 24 May, 2012.

Come clean on dirty intermodal air

The controversial Moorebank Intermodal will not only impact local traffic and noise levels, it is very likely to adversely affect the quality of the air in southwest Sydney, Greens NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon said today.

“I was concerned to learn this week in Senate Estimates that the federal government has no plans to monitor expected increases in local air pollution as a result of new freight rail operations associated with the Moorebank Intermodal,” Senator Rhiannon said.

“When I asked about the level of diesel particulate pollution associated with rail freight movements into Moorebank I was told that while emission monitoring was done for freight rail services in the Hunter Valley, there are no plans to monitor the pollution in southwest Sydney.

“Add this to the minimalist approach to noise mitigation along the residential rail corridor and it appears that the health of locals barely matters to the federal government.

“At the very minimum an adequate number of monitoring stations need to be built along the southern Sydney Freight Line.

“It is unacceptable that issues critical to the well being of locals impacted by the increased freight rail movements and the Intermodal comes out so late in the process and only when questions are being asked in parliamentary committees.

“The government hasn’t been open and transparent with the community.

“The people of southwest Sydney understand that there are benefits to increasing the amount of freight movement on rail, but under the current plan it will be a small percentage with most movements in and out of Moorebank still by road.

“I remain concerned that the future size and scope of the project has not been made clear to the public.

“When the new Port Botany terminal is added, freight capacity will jump from 1.9 million containers a year to potentially 8 million containers. With much of that increase coming to Moorebank the much-touted reduction of road freight will be a fantasy.

“The Greens have called for the creation of a network of distributed, rail-connected freight hubs instead of the Intermodal. This is a more logical approach than a mega-facility in the middle of suburbia.

“It’s time to clear the air, both literally and figuratively on this project,” Senator Rhiannon said.

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