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The NSW government is facing mounting pressure to provide compensation to businesses and residents affected by work on Sydney’s $2.1 billion light rail project amid threats of a class action.
A small-business forum conducted by independent City of Sydney councillor Angela Vithoulkas on Wednesday night was told that not only were businesses suffering financial stress but the pressure was having an impact on people’s mental health.
Ms Vithoulkas said construction over the past 14 months had caused damage to houses and some residents had reported the stench of diesel entering their homes and drilling past midnight that was so loud they had bought decibel recording devices to provide evidence.
Work on the light rail is now under way on every stage of the 12km route, which runs from Circular Quay in the city to Randwick in the eastern suburbs.
David Tracy, who owns Steel Bar and Grill and Steel Espresso in the city, said the work was having a deep impact. “I don’t sleep like I used to,” he said. “We’re completely blocked off and falling behind on the rent.”
Local businesses say they have suffered a 30 per cent drop in revenue, forcing some to close and others to refinance their homes.
A spokeswoman for NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance said: “As with any major construction, there is some short-term disruption caused. However we are building a $2.1bn infrastructure project which, when complete, will significantly benefit the CBD, including the businesses along the alignment.”
She said Transport for NSW and the light rail developer “regularly meet with businesses affected. They have held numerous forums, have a specialist team to assist with freight and delivery access concerns and advisers from the NSW Small Business Commissioner have also reached out to assist local businesses along the light rail alignment.”
Ms Vithoulkas said some business owners were looking at a class action after seeking legal opinion. “We are now preparing to raise funding for it,’’ she said.
Affected residents are conducting a survey on the impact of the work for presentation to the Premier and Transport Minister.
This article first appeared on www.theaustralian.com.au
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