'Our homes are unliveable': WestConnex causing depression, asthma, residents claim


November 15, 2018 18:25:06

Residents near the controversial WestConnex in Sydney’s inner west claim noise and air pollution from the construction of the road project has caused depression, as well as breathing problems such as asthma.

Key points:

  • A psychologist says Kate Cotis appears to have depression caused by the WestConnex construction
  • Rachel Brittliff claims the WestConnex construction caused asthma in her child
  • NSW Roads and Maritime Service says air quality standards for the project are best in the world

Kate Cotis, a St Peters resident for the past 13 years, has lived alongside the above-ground construction zone for months and gave evidence at the New South Wales parliamentary inquiry into the impact of WestConnex.

According to her psychologist, Ms Cotis’s battle with WestConnex over the ongoing noise and pollution from the construction — and her concern over what effect the four-lane toll road’s proximity to her home will have — has led to a mental health condition.

“The impact of the WestConnex project on Kate’s mental wellbeing is consistent with a diagnosis of depression,” Ms Cotis’s psychologist wrote in a letter supplied to 7.30.

“It’s distressingly oppressive, just awful,” Ms Cotis told 7.30.

“It’s a 24-hour construction zone. It’s dirty, filthy, noisy.

“If you set that aside, we are so close to a four-lane highway, with noise increased, we will be living with constant traffic.

“[The NSW] Government needs to listen, hear our distress.

“We need to be properly consulted about measures offered to ameliorate noise and pollution.

“We were told this is what you’re going to get and this is how you’re going to live your life living next to WestConnex.”

To date, the NSW Roads and Maritime Service (RMS), which maintains the key assurance role for WestConnex on behalf of the NSW Government, has only offered mechanical air filtration on her house by way of compensation — a measure Ms Cotis says is “inadequate”.

“What WestConnex have done is bought all the homes they need to build the road, with no consideration to homes right next to this road. And that’s us,” Ms Cotis said.

“It means our homes are unliveable because of it.”

‘It looks like a warzone’

Inner West councillor and WestConnex Action Group co-founder, Pauline Lockie, said the project has ruined the inner west of Sydney.

“You walk through St Peters now and it looks like a warzone,” she said.

“There’s construction happening 24 hours a day. It’s a dustbowl because of scores of houses pulled down.

“People’s houses, they can’t sell them. Or if they sell them now it’ll be for hundreds of thousands of dollars less.”

Further along the construction zone in Ashfield, Rachel Brittliff and her family claim their proximity to the WestConnex construction has exacerbated their asthma, and caused asthma in their four-year-old son Ethan.

“I think it’s the WestConnex construction,” she told 7.30.

“There’s a lot of it, they are dust-generating activities.

“I can’t say scientifically for certain that’s it, but in my book there’s a very large coincidence there.”

RMS chief executive, Ken Kanofski, defended air quality standards for WestConnex.

“The air quality standards for the WestConnex project are equivalent to the best in the world,” he told 7.30.

“They are set independently, subject to expert advice … and those very strict air quality requirements will be adhered too.”

The Brittlif family, who live within 150 metres of a planned unfiltered WestConnex stack at Ashfield, said their concerns over air quality won’t end when the temporary construction phase finishes.

“I agree that infrastructure projects are necessary and I accept that it’s in my backyard,” Ms Brittliff said.

“What I think the most important thing is, when you are doing this in someone’s backyard, you treat those people with respect and dignity, you genuinely consult with them.

“You actually make sure those conditions are being met, because they are not.”

Watch Andy Park’s report tonight on 7.30.









First posted

November 15, 2018 15:55:26

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