Kangy Angy Residents Action Group (KARAG) members claim that they have been shut out of transparent and meaningful communication by Transport NSW and the contractor, John Holland, at the Intercity Rail Maintenance Facility in Orchard Rd.
“It’s more or less a stalemate,” said group member, Susan Zgraja.
“Their idea of community liaison is that they will inform us of what they want us to know and when, and they don’t want to hear our comments, questions or feedback,” she said.
Susan said they have “flatly refused” a group meeting, so a meeting was scheduled between another member, Tracey Stewart, and Paul Galea who is Communications and Stakeholder Manager of the rail facility’s contractor, John Holland.
Susan said she accompanied Tracey to the meeting and unexpectedly there was also a representative of Transport NSW, who objected to Susan being there because she was not invited and told her she could not be part of the meeting.
“He was loud, aggressive and bullying towards us, and said that if I did not leave he would cancel the meeting and that would be the end of it,” Susan said.
“Afterwards we both received emails from, Paul Galea, saying there was no need for face-to-face meetings and all questions would be answered in emails,” Susan said.
She said that since that so-called meeting, it has been “more or less a stalemate”.
“We’re not going to give up, but we don’t know how to get past this fait accompli.
State Member for The Entrance, David Mehan, said Transport NSW was not dealing fairly with the community.
“They could be doing a much better job,” he said.
He said he was working through a few things and attempting to get some improvements, such as the water and sewer connection to residents, which was firmly indicated in the first place as one of the benefits for the community but now neither Transport NSW or Council seemed to want to do it.
“We still don’t have a final design to see the visual impact on the residents,” he said.
Mehan has managed to get a designated bus stop at the site entrance where an informal bus stop was operating.
“Public works need to be to the benefit of the wider community, not just because the government needs something.
“It seems we are dealing with a very arrogant government,” Mehan said.
KARAG’s aim for the meeting was to get information about the extra parcel of land Transport NSW wanted and the progress, if any, of a noise wall surrounding the site.
“We had been informed by the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) that Transport NSW had applied for more land and invited submissions, which we did,” Susan said.
“The OEH had indicated to us that it was inclined to give them permission, however, we objected because it would cause more environmental damage and the removal of even more mature trees, they’ve already ripped out about 4,000.”
A report to Central Coast Council’s meeting on March 25 said that Transport NSW applied to OEH to modify its development in order to conduct additional works outside the approved site boundary, which would entail clearing an extra 0.58ha of vegetation and habitat for 13 identified animals.
“Clearance of the extra land is not considered by Transport NSW to have a significant impact on threatened biodiversity, and the OEH proposes to allow the clearance of the additional 0.58ha,” the report said.
Director of Environment and Planning, Scott Cox, said a submission would be lodged on a point of clarification only at this stage and a review of the matter was ongoing.
Susan said Transport NSW was also dodging the issue of installing a noise wall surrounding the site.
“It was part of the original plan but they keep coming up with the same reason all the time that they haven’t completed the design, but I think it is because of the cost.
“This is a heavy industry operating 24/7 we’re talking about, in a quiet rural area, and they haven’t solved the noise problem.
“A lot of complaints have been because of the intrusion of noise, vibration, loss of privacy and the clearing of the land.
“If they put the wall in first, there would have been less upset, especially along Enterprise Dr.
“And they say the wall, especially along Enterprise Dr, would cause echoing, but I think they are just throwing us a furphy.
“I’m not a sound engineer but I do know that those walls are supposed to absorb the noise not bounce off.”
This journalist contacted the Communications and Stakeholder Manager for the project, Paul Galea, and he refused to talk to me.
I told him I contacted him because I thought his role was community liaison, but he was rude, terse and hung up after saying: “I don’t want to talk to you, go to Transport NSW,” he said.
A statement from Transport NSW on May 13 said it was committed to working with the local community during construction of the rail maintenance facility.
“As the maintenance facility site is currently an active construction zone, John Holland is responsible for all aspects of workplace safety, including the safety of visitors to the site.
“Accordingly, only invited visitors and staff that have completed necessary induction are permitted onsite.
“Where this requirement has not been met, unannounced visitors to the site are not permitted.
“The project team has been providing ongoing updates about the facility and matters of interest by direct contact to community members and through written communications, including regular community newsletters.
“We welcome feedback about the project at firstname.lastname@example.org and 1800 684 490, or for urgent matters, by contacting our 24-hour Construction Response Line on 1800 775 465.
“Project information is also available at transport.nsw.gov.au/projects
“Construction of the noise wall will be completed before the start of operation of the rail maintenance facility.”
In an email to KARAG on March 19, Galea said: “There was no intention by John Holland (contractor) to convene group meetings as you’ve requested……it’s my experience that during the delivery phase of a project, talking with individual residents about their specific areas of interest on a one-to-one basis is consistently a more effective strategy for all parties.
“The maintenance facility project has frequent and ongoing contact with local stakeholders and residents across a wide range of topics.
“These calls, emails and meetings are in addition to regular notifications distributed throughout the local community and provided to other stakeholders.”
In regard to a noise wall to surround the site, Galea said in the email: “The Review of Environmental Factors assessed operational noise and vibration and proposed mitigation measures.
“John Holland is currently finalising the Operational Noise and Vibration Review as required by the project’s planning approval.
“The community will be notified of outcomes when the review and proposed mitigation measures are finalised.
“Installing a noise wall around the entire site is not considered feasible due to a range of factors including the need to clear extensive areas of additional vegetation, the prohibitive cost and timeline implications, and the need to seek additional and extensive planning approvals.
“In some areas, installing a noise wall may also increase the noise impacts for residents – as the wall would also reverberate noise back towards residents from existing noise sources outside the project, such as Enterprise Dr.”
Interview, May 10
Kangy Angy Residents Action Group, Susan Zgraja
Interview, May 10
The Entrance MP, David Mehan
Media statement, May 13
Central Coast Council meeting Mar 25
Agenda Item 6.4
Email, Mar 19
Email, Mar 19
Rail Facility Communications and Stakeholder Manager, Paul Galea
Journalist, Sue Murray