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Letter: Is Queanbeyan Council interested in community views?

Dear Editor

Community concerns sent to Queanbeyan City Council (QCC) about the harmful impacts to people and the environment from building the Ellerton Drive Extension (EDE) have been dismissed. The Council in August dismissed a community petition of 213 signatures tabled in July.

Council also considered a report on the public consultation on the EDE concept plans and Species Impact Statement when it met on 28 August. Councillors then voted 7 to 2 (Labor councillors Judith Burfoot and Brian Brown opposing) to engage a consultant to design the road despite there being no funding from any source for the project.

Appreciation of our special places is reflected in the Queanbeyan Community Vision, updated last year, which states: Queanbeyan’s attractive complex landscape, its parks, rivers, escarpment, grassland and forested hills and associated flora and fauna are key assets that must be preserved for future generations.”

It is difficult to see how constructing a four-lane expressway and destroying 19ha of native vegetation that is supposed to be protected gives effect to the above statement.

The land on which the EDE would be built, and the river it would cross, are part of a locally and regionally significant wildlife corridor, linking the eastern ranges to the Murrumbidgee River corridor.

The EDE would exacerbate the ‘islanding’ effect already underway, whereby areas of biodiversity are cut off from each other, preventing the easy movement of wildlife from one to the other. We can see this with the extension of the Edwin Land Parkway, where Mt Jerrabomberra is almost surrounded by housing and the green corridor linking to the south of the city has become a sliver. Wildlife has to contend with a busy road or inadequate underpasses.

Petitioners want the Council to withdraw the EDE plans and instead develop a sustainable transport strategy for the city. Council said criticism of the proposed roadway was not supported because it was a long-standing proposal. Of course, that doesn’t make it a good one more than 30 years later as we confront the challenges of climate change and species loss.

What is difficult to fathom is why the Council won’t invest a small sum of money to develop a proper transport strategy for the city – one that includes better public transport services and improved cycling paths and which takes account of ACT road planning.

Katrina Willis, Queanbeyan Conservation Alliance

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