No Westconnex: Public Transport (NoWPT) is a coalition of community groups and individuals from across Sydney campaigning to protect our suburbs and environment from the WestConnex toll road, and in favour of active and public transport solutions. We are an incorporated association and a member group of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.
Affiliated groups include:
- No WestConnex Annandale, Glebe and Forest Lodge
- Rozelle Against WestConnex (RAW)
- Leichhardt Against WestConnex (LAW)
- Wolli Creek Preservation Society
- Save Ashfield Park
- Newtown Residents Against Westconnex (NRAW)
- Camperdown Residents Against Westconnex (CRAW)
No WestConnex: Public Transport was formed within days of hearing the NSW Government’s 2012 plans to create a vast system of tollways across Sydney. The only information provided by WestConnex Delivery Authority were lines of fairy dust scattered across Sydney. They still provide minimal information.
This is the third attempt by the all-powerful RMS to build a toll road that was dreamt up in the 1940s, when hardly anyone even owned a car. They’re still using essentially the same plan 70 years later; motorways as a solution to transport problems in cities are completely rejected by transport experts, unless they’re employed by RMS.
Founding members of NoWPT were veterans of either, or all, the previous successful campaigns to stop freeways destroying Sydney:
In 1974 squatters occupied empty houses in Glebe as part of their battle to stop the western distributor, which would have wiped out huge swathes of Glebe, Forest Lodge, Annandale, Leichhardt and Lilyfield. The successful campaign stopped that proposed ‘freeway’ when Wran’s Labor won government in 1974.
In 2002 -2003 the then NSW Labor Government announced the building of the M4 East. The issues were the same as today; destruction of houses and communities, pollution, rat-running on local roads to avoid tolls and no solution to Sydney’s transport problems.
Between 2002-2004 we campaigned with information, street stalls and public meetings. A march along some of the proposed route between Haberfield and Leichhardt finally overturned plans for the M4 East’s tunnels, tolls and smokestacks which would have cut through the heart of Haberfield and Leichhardt, and poured cars into the Inner West. The M4 East proposal had become hugely unpopular, and when the Labor Government realized it would cost them the next election, they withdrew funding.
Earlier the successful ‘Save Wolli Creek’ campaign had saved precious bushland from the soon-gridlocked M5 Tollway. A section of this saved bush was, however, the remnant, critically endangered Cooks River Castlereagh Ironbark forest, that was bulldozed in September 2016, for a temporary car park, for the 2016 M5 widening.
The public transport advocacy group, EcoTransit grew out of the anti-M5 campaign. They realised the battle to stop toll roads had to tackle the bigger question of how to properly move people around growing cities. The airport link and the light rail extension are two of their successful campaigns.
Back in 2012, No WestConnex: Public Transport’s first task was to become incorporated, to give ourselves and everyone involved in the campaign legal protection. We know what enormous forces we’re up against.
We began by organizing dozens of public meetings throughout Sydney – providing people with the information hidden by the Sydney Motorway Corporation and the NSW and Federal Governments, and building a massive base of active supporters.
As knowledge of WestConnex’s proposed tollways and their local impacts expands, we were joined by new opposition groups: Annandale/Leichhardt/Lilyfield, Ashfield, Haberfield, Croydon, Arncliffe, Rockdale, St Peters, Newtown, Kingsgrove, Rozelle (3 groups).
No WestConnex: Public Transport formed alliances with the then inner west councils along the route, including City of Sydney, and raised funds for a community organizer.
Following Melbourne’s success in stopping the East-West tunnel, and our own success in stopping the ’74 and 2004 toll roads, we know it can be done but we have to be prepared to fight.
WestConnex is a massive monster and we need all our intelligence, skills and direct action to defeat it. The serious tunnelling has not started. There are cracks all over the government’s proposal; apart from using our taxes, they are unable to attract private investors – all recent tollways have been economic failures and environmental disasters; every transport planner knows new toll roads fill with traffic; China has experienced week-long, 100 kilometre-long gridlocks on 20-lane toll roads. They’re now focusing on building fast rail lines.
We campaigned for the Federal Auditor General – whose job it is to investigate major infrastructure projects – to immediately investigate WestConnex, and they are. That report due in January 2017 could be a game-changer. We want that $20 billion to build a great public transport system for Sydney, not another destructive, lost opportunity. WestConnex is a dud deal not a done deal!
Leichhardt Council’s recent report (before they were sacked!) slams WestConnex as the most wasteful infrastructure project in Australia. It is also the most destructive. Architect and newly-elected City of Sydney Councillor, Philip Thalis, calls WestConnex the worst infrastructure project in the history of Australia.