Today, the NSW Department of Planning and Environment published the submissions for the WestCONnex M4 East.
Normally the Department publishes the name of the person who has sent in the submission with an accompanying PDF. Here’s an example from the Northconnex.
If you took a quick look at the Planning Department’s M4 East page, you could mistakenly think there were only 60 public submissions. In fact there are 4877 public submissions dumped into 60 unlabelled PDFS. The vast majority of submissions ‘object’ to to the project. Even those who only ‘comment’ rather than ‘object’ are mostly very critical of the M4 East proposal.
Unless a member of the public trawls through all submissions, he or she won’t easily find their own submission or submissions from the National Trust, the Westconnex Action Group, the No Westconnex Public Transport group and other detailed submissions from groups and experts. If the department is not equipped to deal with thousands of submission, why can’t it slow down the planning process? It is quite unfair for the documentation of public feedback for one planning application to be treated less transparently that others.
The Department’s approach to the publication of public submissions demonstrates their arrogance towards the community and how the planning process is biased and corrupted in favour of the proponent – RMS and Sydney Motorway Corporation. It’s the same overall undemocratic approach which leads the government to grant construction contracts before the project is approved or a business case is made public.
The Department has claimed in writing that it will rigorously assess all submissions. Do they wonder why the community is cynical about their claims?
The People’s EIS will be going through the submissions and publishing some of them.
In future updates, we’ll report on the 17 Submissions from Agencies and Government Departments. There are hundreds of criticisms of the project in these submissions.
Update: The People’s EIS has complained about the way in which the public submissions have been published on the Department of Planning website. Senior Planner Brent Devine who is managing the process said it was because it had to be done as quickly as possible which simply confirms that the planning process is being rushed to suit the WestCONnex. He is going to look into whether an index with names and suburbs of submitters can be published. We expect to hear back in a day or two.