Monthly Archives: January 2014

Potential Impact on Kensington and Kingsford Residents from Proposed Heavy Rail Tunneling Option – January 18 2014

Open letter to the resident Precinct Committees of Randwick City Council from Greens Councillor Murray Matson

Dear Precincts

Head of the S-210 Tunnel boring machine used to excavate the eastern tube of the Gotthard Base tunnel between Bodio and Faido, Canton Ticino, Switzerland

A tunnel boring machine (TBM) is used to excavate tunnels through underlying rock. Image supplied by Wikipedia. Image by Cooper.ch 16:58, 19 September 2006 (UTC)

On January 6th this year Randwick Liberal Councillor Robert Belleli issued a media release in which he floated the idea of building a heavy rail station in Kingsford serviced by underground tunnels instead of the announced surface light rail line.

This idea has been taken up by Kensington and Kingsford West Precinct secretary Ms Rosemary Mackenzie (email, 8th Jan. 2014).

I am also aware that former Kinsford South Precinct office holder Mr Andrew Roydhouse has been visiting some precincts and has also been urging that they support a heavy rail line instead of light rail (although I am not aware if he was intending Kingsford to be the site of the heavy rail station).

I now urge the Precincts to be cautious before endorsing Councillor Belleli’s idea and to conduct appropriate research on the sleep deprivation and property damage issues experienced by residents living over the vibrations from underground tunneling works in urban environments, in particular the past Eastern Distributor construction works. There is also a contestable possibility that property damage might be associated with dewatering during construction in the Kingsford/Kensington part of Sydney.

In the 1990’s I took part in protests against the Eastern Distributor motorway project which involved large scale tunneling operations in the Surry Hills area. A heavy rail line to Kingsford would have to also have long tunnels.

One night on the protest site I talked to a local Surry Hills resident who complained that he and fellow residents were enduring severe problems sleeping because of the drilling vibration from the underground tunneling. Sleep deprivation is apparently a well known problem in the urban tunneling industry.

“Other environmental issues which are impacting on tunnel construction include the vibration caused by both mechanical and TBM tunnelling, known as regenerative noise.” (Aurecon)

I was not the only local politician who residents complained to. In 1999 then State MP for Bligh Clover Moore called on the Minister for the Environment as follows.

“In what areas does the EPA consider that the Minister’s Conditions were inadequate to prevent impacts on residents such as noise, vibrations, air pollution, traffic and property damage? What recommendations can the EPA make to prevent a repetition of related problems during the construction of the Cross City Tunnel?” (Clover Moore 1999, Review of Adequacy of Eastern Distributor Consent Conditions)

Clover Moore gave a speech in Parliament in 2001 outlining the damage to resident’s property.

“The problems are consistent with subsidence due to vibrations or groundwater changes as a result of the construction of the toll road. Problems range from cracks in many rooms to one home with gaps which are wide enough to put one’s hand through. Doors and windows do not close because frames are warped and built-in cupboards are separating from walls.” (Clover Moore MP, Hansard, Legislative Assembly, 26 June 2001)

In recent years the Precinct Committee has been commendably active in speaking out on dewatering issues when buildings with underground parking have been proposed in its local area. Property damage from dewatering was also believed to be a problem with the Eastern Distributor tunnels.

“The Commission found that 41 of the 59 reported cases of property damage were attributable to the effects of construction of the motorway. Of these, 9 were caused by temporary construction dewatering, 19 to the combined effects of dewatering and vibration, and the remainder to vibration alone.” (RMZ- Materials and Geoenvironment, Vol. 50, No. 1, pp.229-232, 2003)

University of Technology, Sydney researchers have since disputed that the property damages were related to dewatering on the Eastern Distributor works in the Surry Hills area. But this does not mean that property damage from dewatering would not be a reality if tunneling is done further south in the Kingsford and Kensington areas where the geology may be somewhat different and local residents have complained of it as an issue in the past.

Randwick Greens Councillor Murray Matson
0409-984-587
@murraymatson


SOURCES

Review of Adequacy of Eastern Distributor Consent Conditions (Clover Moore 1999,http://www.cloverarchive.com/archive/idx.htm?http://www.cloverarchive.com/archive/issues/transport/roads/ed/review.htm. The Lord Mayor of Sydney wanted no repeat of vibration effects when the Cross City Tunnel works commenced.

Tunnelling – delivering modern solutions with proven approaches (Aurecon, http://www.aurecongroup.com/en/thinking/archive/tunnelling-delivering-modern-solutions-with-proven-approaches.aspx). Outlines negative community response to “regenerative noise” from vibrations. “Other environmental issues which are impacting on tunnel construction include the vibration caused by both mechanical and TBM tunneling, known as regenerative noise.”

Eastern Distributor Construction Homes Damage(Clover Moore MP, Hansard, Legislative Assembly, 26 June 2001http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/hansart.nsf/V3Key/LA20010626045) “The problems are consistent with subsidence due to vibrations or groundwater changes as a result of the construction of the toll road. Problems range from cracks in many rooms to one home with gaps which are wide enough to put one’s hand through. Doors and windows do not close because frames are warped and built-in cupboards are separating from walls.”

Modelling of the groundwater impact of a sunken urban motorway in Sydney, Australia. (RMZ- Materials and Geoenvironment, Vol. 50, No. 1, pp.229-232, 2003) “The Commission found that 41 of the 59 reported cases of property damage were attributable to the effects of construction of the motorway. Of these, 9 were caused by temporary construction dewatering, 19 to the combined effects of dewatering and vibration, and the remainder to vibration alone.”

Letter to the Editor in response to: “Light Rail not needed” (Southern Courier, January 18th 2014)

The Editor
The Southern Courier

Dear Editor

Re: “Light Rail not needed” by Councillor Robert Belleli

Last week anti-light rail Liberal Councillor Robert Belleli emailed residents suggesting that Kingsford should have a heavy rail station instead of a light rail line.

Now he claims (“Light Rail not needed”) that we have “an almost perfect” bus system. If it is so perfect, why should we replace it with heavy rail? And why not light rail?

Bus capacity has hit a ceiling in the CBD and light rail is more cost effective than heavy rail.

Councillor Belleli ignores many successful light rail systems. Canada’s Galgary system has the potential to move 9,000 passengers per hour with services every 5 minutes or less.

The two can be integrated. Parramatta and Botany Councils both want light rail extensions despite each having heavy rail stations.

Randwick City Greens Councillor
Murray Matson

NSW Council Amalgamations: Botany Council to go – maybe Randwick, Waverley and Woollahra too – January 10th 2014

The Government released the final reports of the Independent Local Government Review Panel and the Local Government Acts Taskforce a few days ago.

The Government may or may not take up two options for south eastern Sydney. In either case Botany Council will be absorbed.

Randwick Greens Councillor Murray Matson says the Greens are not supporting either option. “The Greens totally oppose forced Council amalgamations<.” Option 1.

The present Sydney Council borders are expanded to “enhance the potential for improved urban management (eg at Newtown, Paddington and south into Botany) and to include regional facilities such as Centennial Park.”

This basically means Botany Council will vanish. Randwick Council will lose Centennial Park but that would not make a great deal of difference as it is currently administered by a trust.

Option 2.

This will be the amalgamation of Randwick, Botany, Woollahra, Waverley and Sydney, which is just two short of the seven member super council that was rumored to be coming. But it will still be an area of 500,000 plus.

Randwick Greens Councillor Murray Matson said this week,

“Amalgamating with Sydney was always the Randwick Councillors worst case scenario, no offense to any serving Councillor on it. There is no valid financial reason why Randwick should be amalgamated as we have been proven to be financially sustainable.”

The Greens are concerned that a larger sized Council area will disenfranchise constituents from their elected representatives with fellow Greens Councillor Lindsay Shurey saying,

“At the moment I am just about able to handle all the phone calls and emails I get from constituents, but that would become really difficult under a super council model. There are big questions as to how Councillors will be elected to these new bodies and the manner in which they will be allowed to represent their new expanded constituent bases. ”

The two Greens called for keeping proportional elections and the current councillor per constituent ratio in any amalgamated Council body. Councillor Matson said,

“Proportional elections for Councillors should be retained and the current Botany Council optional preferential or one-councillor-per-ward system should be avoided at all costs. We should also avoid reducing the net number of Councillors in the South East so that our constituents can still enjoy ready access to their elected representatives.”

BACKGROUND: A recent relevant media is available from NSW Greens MLC David Shoebridge at http://nsw.greens.org.au/content/ofarrell-looking-break-election-promise-council-amalgamations.

Randwick Council voted for a price on carbon emissions in 2013 the hottest year on record – 5th January 2014

In November Randwick City Council voted for a Greens motion to write to federal politicians advocating the retention of a market based system for setting a price on carbon emissions.

Now the ABC (the thing some Liberals apparently want to privatize) is telling us that 2013 was the hottest Australian year “since records began in 1910”.

Clearly, when all the political posturing is put aside, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has got to do something effective about climate change. If a Liberal will not use the market system to reduce carbon emissions who will? (Well, the Greens obviously…)

Hopefully our Prime Minister’s solution will not include clubbing the ABC into silence. But my 2014 new year hope is that we will at least see changes in perspective at our local level.

Maybe Liberal Councillors Brendon Roberts and Harry Stavrinos will edge away from being seen as open climate change deniers. Maybe Liberal Councillor Robert Belleli will stop derailing Council debates by dragging in every unrelated excuse for climate change he can possibly (and impossibly) think up.

Randwick Greens Councillor
Murray Matson