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The $15.8 billion North East Link has got the Planning Minister's tick of approval, after he dismissed the key findings of an independent panel who had spent weeks assessing the project's effects on the environment.
Planning Minister Richard Wynne has signed off on what will be Victoria's most expensive road, despite its impact on 53 hectares of open space, the loss of nearly 800 jobs and a "protracted construction period" that will be so unpleasant that more homes may need to be acquired.
The North East Link could look a lot like this.
Mr Wynne found that the "project’s adverse environmental effects can be appropriately managed and will be acceptable considering the project’s significant benefits".
The minister was responding to findings by an independent panel that oversaw nine weeks of hearings into the environmental impacts of the new toll road linking the Metropolitan Ring Road in Greensborough with the Eastern Freeway in Bulleen.
In a 500-page report released on Thursday morning, the Independent Advisory Council sharply criticised the project's impact on the liveability of tens of thousands of people who live along the sensitive corridor in Melbourne's north-east.
"This project needs to successfully resolve the tension between road functionality, infrastructure and safety with community liveability, landscape character and economic prosperity in this sensitive corridor," the report stated. "It has not yet struck this balance."
The North East Link is designed to remove 12,000 vehicles from Rosanna Road and 19,000 from Greensborough Road each day and should slash travel times between the north and south-east of the city by up to 35 minutes.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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