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The $15.8 billion North East Link will cut through native vegetation spanning 52 hectares and remove open space and recreational areas the size of nine MCGs.
The extent of the North East Link’s environmental impact has been revealed for the first time in a voluminous Environment Effects Statement released by Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan this week.
“The project would require the permanent acquisition of [a] combined total 182,300 square metres of open space and recreational areas across the municipalities of Banyule, Manningham, Boroondara, Yarra and Whitehorse,” a report on the social impacts of the road says. This is the equivalent of nine MCGs.
The documents also show that 150 patches of native vegetation spread over 52 hectares would be removed, including 22 hectares where native and threatened wildlife are found.
About three kilometres of water flowing through two separate creeks, the Koonung Creek and Banyule Creek, would be diverted and turned into drains.
Since the 1970s, Anthea Fleming has written up bird lists and helped plant thousands of indigenous trees around the waterways – to circumvent the prospect of a highway just like the North East Link being built.
The 78-year-old Warringal Conservation Society member said in the 1980s, the group organised mass planting bees around the Bolin Bolin Billabong “to discourage a freeway from ever coming through”.
“From 1979 on, a freeway has been a menacing presence in our thoughts for most of that time."
The 26-kilometre North East Link, set to carry 135,000 vehicles daily, is designed to fill this ‘missing link’ in Melbourne’s ring road, taking thousands of trucks off congested arterial roads in the north-east.
It will take seven years to build, with construction to start next year.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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