Jo Haylen MP, Member for Summer Hill has called on the Baird Liberal Government to immediately stop plans for a tunnel exhaust stack close to schools, child care centres and nursing homes in Haberfield and Ashfield.
Local parents and health experts have raised concerns pollution from the tunnel will exacerbate the already high prevalence of chronic circulatory and respiratory conditions in the Ashfield LGA.
“Parents are understandably worried about the quality of air their kids will be breathing,” Ms Haylen said.
The Government intends to build an unfiltered smoke stack less than 500m from Haberfield Public School, The Ashfield Infants Home, many child care centres and nursing homes.
“Thanks to the Government’s arrogant approach, we still have no idea how fumes from this unfiltered smoke stack will mix with other fumes already present on Parramatta Road or from the city, and how they will affect local families – particularly kids with asthma and other respiratory conditions,” Ms Haylen said.
The Ashfield Local Government Area Health Profile shows that the Ashfield LGA has a higher rate of chronic circulatory and respiratory conditions, compared to the Inner West catchment area and New South Wales. Furthermore, lung cancer is one of the three main cancers which caused death in the Ashfield LGA between 2004-2008.
“It has been well established that exposure to high concentrations of vehicle emissions is harmful to health, particularly for people with asthma. We understand the concerns raised by the Haberfield community regarding the location of the stack in a densely populated area” says Michele Goldman, CEO of Asthma Foundation NSW.
“The Asthma Foundation will be closely reviewing the Environmental Impact Statement when released and is committed to lobbying on behalf of people with asthma to protect the health of motorists using the WestConnex tunnel, and local community members,” Ms Goldman said.
Local Grandmother, Kerry Barlow, expressed her concern, “My eldest grandchild will go to school in two years, with their nearest school Haberfield Public.
“I am already very concerned about the air quality in Ashfield, particularly near Parramatta Road and Liverpool Road, which are heavily used by trucks and other diesel-fuelled vehicles,” Ms Barlow said.
“My grandson developed symptoms of asthma last year, and these will be exacerbated if he goes to a school close to the WestConnex portal and ventilation stack near Wattle and Walker Streets.”
“Most local residents believe that there will be as much traffic on Parramatta Road once the tunnel is built, so we will have double the pollution,” Ms Barlow said.
“A residential area in the Inner-West is a completely inappropriate place to put a smoke stack,” Ms Haylen added.
“I bet that the Minister for Roads would not want his own children living and going to school down the road from an unfiltered smoke stack, particularly without having any information about the potential health risks,” said Ms Haylen.
“This Government have completely let the families and children of Haberfield down.”
Ms Haylen is encouraging concerned parents and citizens to make submissions, when the Environmental Impact Statement is finally released for community comment.
Concerned residents can contact the Asthma Foundation NSW Hotline on 1800 278 462.