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Stronger protections on tunnel ventilation facilities

Published 17th February, 2018

The NSW Government today announced that it is putting in place stronger protections on emissions from motorway tunnels.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Minister for the Environment Gabrielle Upton and Minister for Roads Melinda Pavey announced the new requirements, which will give the public confidence that air emissions from motorway tunnels are being assessed and operate within acceptable limits.

“This Government is investing billions of dollars in new roads and public transport to address congestion in Sydney,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“At the same time, we want to ensure that we are doing all we can to make sure the community has confidence that their health and safety is protected.”

Under these reforms, the ventilation outlets of all current and future operating motorway tunnels in NSW will be regulated by the NSW Environment Protection Authority. The EPA will require tunnel operators to meet air quality limits and undertake air quality monitoring, where practicable.

In addition, for new motorway tunnels that have not progressed to the Environmental Impact Statement stage, additional checks will be required prior to planning determination, including:

  • The Advisory Committee on Tunnel Air Quality (ACTAQ) will coordinate a scientific review of a project’s air emissions from ventilation outlets;
  • The NSW Chief Health Officer will release a statement on the potential health impacts of emissions from tunnel ventilation outlets; and
  • The Minister for Planning will not approve a motorway tunnel project until the ACTAQ scientific review is considered.

“When we came to Government we moved to address the impacts around ventilation outlets for motorway tunnels by establishing the Advisory Committee on Tunnel and Air Quality, which advises Government on tunnel ventilation design and operation,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Ms Upton said: “As a result tunnels are subject to detailed environmental assessment and monitoring to ensure their ventilation outlets are built and operated to have a negligible impact on air quality.

“But we understand there are still community concerns and that is why we have moved to make these changes which build on our strong record of protecting the community and the environment.”

Mrs Pavey said: “We are investing record amounts on road infrastructure and the changes being announced today will ensure we do so with the full confidence of the community.

“These new measures will apply to all current and future motorway tunnels that have ventilation facilities.”

Published 17th February, 2018
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