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Media Release

26/10/2001

Scoresby Freeway Court Challenge Issued

The President of the Public Transport Users Association, Dr. Paul Mees, issued Federal court proceedings yesterday seeking an injunction preventing Vicroads and Transport Minister Peter Batchelor proceeding any further with the controversial, billion-dollar Scoresby Freeway.

Dr. Mees says the freeway is illegal under the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 because it has not been approved by the Federal Environment Minister. The Federal legislation prohibits actions which affect endangered species, migratory birds, or wetlands of international importance registered under the 'Ramsar convention'. The proposed Eastern Ring Road (of which the Scoresby Freeway is the first stage) affects all three. The only exception to the prohibition is if the Federal Minister for the Environment conducts an assessment and approves the action.

Dr. Mees said that, although the Scoresby Freeway had undergone environmental assessment under the Kennett government, this assessment was fatally flawed.

"The Kennett assessment was shonky," he said. "Firstly, it didn't consider the whole Eastern Ring Road - it left out the environmentally sensitive link through the Yarra Valley 'green wedge', keeping residents of Bulleen, Heidelberg, Eltham and Warrandyte in the dark. Secondly, the process was dishonest because, once it became apparent that improving public transport would produce greater reductions in traffic congestion than building the Freeway, the public transport option was dropped from the study to prevent it winning. And finally, the Kennett government's own review panel recommended that the southernmost section of the Freeway not be built because of its effect on the Ramsar-listed Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands, but Vicroads have simply ignored this and propose to bulldoze ahead regardless."

Dr. Mees said he had written to Mr. Batchelor and to Vicroads three weeks ago requesting that they put the freeway on hold, but had received no response. In the meantime, the Bracks government announced it had signed an agreement with the Howard government to fund the Freeway.

The case has been listed for initial hearing on 3rd December. Dr. Mees, who is a barrister, is representing himself.

Contacts:
PTUA Office 9650 7898

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Last Modified: 26 October 2001