‘The truth is: the natural world is changing. And we are totally dependent on that world. It provides our food, water and air. It is the most precious thing we have and we need to defend it.’ Sir David Attenborough
Building the Ellerton Drive Extension (EDE) is a failure of a fundamental principle that underpins our democracy: that government decisions should improve people’s lives.
The chief beneficiaries of this road are developers who want to open up land for housing at Jumping Creek Estate on Queanbeyan’s Eastern Escarpment.
The bulldozers have moved in to rip up the woodland and tear down the forest to pave the road to their riches, while the community bears the costs – in every sense of the word.
Efforts are underway to impose the Ellerton Drive Extension (EDE) on our community before we vote for a new council on 9 September. But your vote can make a difference.
Administrator of Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council, Tim Overall, a long-time backer of the EDE, and Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) are rushing to award a contract to build the road next week, when pre-poll voting opens. This was confirmed on 23 August in the Public Forum.
The move follows the call for tenders last March.
They are trying to lock in the EDE because they fear a community backlash against the road project at the ballot box.
Tim Overall hasn’t consulted Palerang voters even though they would share the financial risks of the proposed $36 million-plus loan to developers to help pay for the road. He ignored a Palerang Council resolution calling for consultation in April 2016, just before the NSW Liberal-National government sacked Palerang and Queanbeyan councils to force a merger.
Tim Overall approved the EDE in June 2016 in an undemocratic decision without the input of our elected councillors. It should be up to the next democratically elected council to listen to the community and create a genuine sustainable transport plan for our community.
We need to act now
More than 1,500 people have signed the community campaign’s petition online and in hard copy to stop the EDE.
We presented the latest signatures to council on 23 August.
But Tim Overall wants to build the EDE, no matter how harmful it would be to people’s health, our local environment and council finances.
If Tim Overall pushes through the EDE, we will all suffer the consequences for years to come including:
Our local environment will be damaged beyond repair. Queanbeyan River will be placed at risk of poor water quality. Our native animals that depend on the Eastern Escarpment will lose their home.
Vote for a better transport plan
The best way to stop the EDE is to vote for councillors who will halt the project and work with the community to develop a sustainable transport plan that includes better options.
We’ve asked all candidates where they stand on the EDE and the need for a better transport plan. This is so you can choose candidates who understand our concerns and will work for a sustainable transport plan and alternatives to the EDE.
Find out what they had to say before you vote.
A shameful act of destruction
Giant box gum trees have been felled, thundering to the ground, as Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council started destroying our unique environment along the route of the proposed Ellerton Drive Extension (EDE) on 11 January 2017.
The Administrator, Tim Overall approved the road, currently costed at $86 million, on 30 June 2016, after the Baird Government sacked Queanbeyan and Palerang councillors.
Council got the green light for clearing 55 hollow-bearing trees and 44 termite mounds that Rosenberg’s goanna use to lay their eggs after it stitched up a deal with the Australian Government Environment Department on ‘biodiversity offsets’ without any public scrutiny.
Tim Overall was nowhere to be found when the chainsaws moved in.
This destructive clearing is a prelude, not the end of the matter. We can still stop the road and that’s what we intend to do.
EDE a waste of money
Council’s own studies show that the EDE won’t be a town bypass or provide a real transport solution for our community.
The EDE would expose Queanbeyan-Palerang ratepayers to the financial risk of a $36 million-plus council loan to developers for their share of construction costs.
A financial risk assessment released just days before the meeting to decide whether to approve the EDE raised serious questions about assumptions for repaying the council loan.
It also revealed that a cost overrun of just $1.7 million would mean council would need to dip into other funds set aside for facilities for a growing population to cover the shortfall.
Unique environment at risk
The EDE threatens Queanbeyan’s unique and precious bushland and river. It would destroy bushland habitat for native animals and disturb the Queanbeyan River corridor.
And it would cause more, not less, congestion across Queanbeyan, and expose thousands more people to increased traffic pollution and noise.
There are better options including a northern bypass and Dunns Creek Rd to keep traffic, including trucks, out of the city centre, better bus services and more cycleways.
Sustainable transport plan needed
Developing a sustainable transport plan can involve everyone in the newly-merged Queanbeyan-Palerang region so that everyone benefits from new spending.
A sustainable transport plan will also help make our city a better place to live and preserve our local environment and the native wildlife that depends on it.
Since the NSW government dismissed Queanbeyan City councillors and merged the council with Palerang in May 2016, our community is unrepresented.
It should be up to the next elected council, not the NSW government-appointed Administrator, to decide the best transport options for our community.
While we wait for the opportunity to elect local representatives, the council should work with the community to develop a sustainable transport plan.
Do you enjoy the wonderful bushland and native animals on our doorstep?
Perhaps you walk in the forests of Queanbeyan Escarpment, rich in bird song, or amble along Queanbeyan River in search of elusive platypus. Maybe you wander through the Gale precinct with its impressive stands of Box Gum woodland, or stroll around the slopes of Mt Jerrabomberra where striking native orchids burst into life in spring.
These and other features of our local environment are treasures that belong to all of us. But the proposed EDE threatens our opportunity to enjoy these natural places, and the ability of wildlife to move through them.
This high-speed road is planned for land zoned for environmental protection. Land that is home to dozens of animals and plant species, some protected under NSW and national laws. Land that is part of an important wildlife corridor linking the eastern ranges with the Murrumbidgee River.
Serious questions need to be asked about the arguments being made for building the Ellerton Drive Extension.
The Queanbeyan Conservation Alliance is working to promote an alternative approach to our city’s transport needs, one that doesn’t come at such a high cost to our local environment and all those who value it.
On this website you will find information about the road project, its impacts and the reasons we say that Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council should put the brakes on the Ellerton Drive Extension.
Queanbeyan River at Barracks Flat
Copyright Sue Crickmore 2013