Jo Haylen, Member for Summer Hill, is calling on Duncan Gay, Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, to visit the Infants’ Home in Ashfield to hear locals’ views on Westconnex.

Haylen said, “If Minister Gay visited the beautiful Infants’ Home and met with families and staff, he might better understand the strong opposition to Westconnex in the Inner West.”

“He is quick to dismiss Inner West locals as latte-sippers, but if he met with locals, he’d realize we have valid objections to acquiring homes, building polluting stacks and increasing local traffic – all for a toll road,” Haylen said.

Exhaust stacks will funnel unfiltered exhaust fumes from the new M4 tunnel into the local heritage suburbs of Haberfield and Ashfield, in close proximity to The Infants’ Home and Haberfield Public School. Contracts have been signed without an environmental impact statement or business case being released.

Anita Kumar, CEO of the Infants’ Home, has written to Minister Gay requesting a meeting and expressing concerns over the project.

Kumar says, “Along with our neighbours we are very concerned at this decision to place an exhaust stack, which we understand will emit ventilation from traffic using the future link between the M4 and M5, in a location which is in such close proximity to services for young children.”

“As well as The Infants’ Home we are concerned that this proposal may impact children in our neighbouring public school at Haberfield and the community that uses the local Hammond Park,” Kumar said.

The Infants’ Home works with over 2,500 children each year and over 300 young children attend the Infants’ Home each day, over 30% of who are experiencing complex health and family issues.

Haylen said, “The decision to place these stacks so close to schools and child care centres shows a complete lack of respect for local families and potentially puts kids at risk.”

“Residents and families deserve to know what the impacts of the stacks will be and why the decision was made to build these stacks so close to The Infants’ Home and Haberfield Public School,” Haylen said.

“Minister Gay compared the tunnel exhaust to a weak shandy, but the truth is he’s hiding how potent the pollution from these stacks will be. I’m not interested in cute word games; this is our kids’ health we’re talking about,” Haylen said.

18 June 2015