The noise is deafening but Casula residents will have to wait
Liverpool Mayor Wendy Waller
The Mayor of Liverpool Wendy Waller has written to the Minister requesting his assistance “in obtaining a funding allocation for the provision of noise attenuation to address the issue of rail traffic noise in Liverpool.” (Extract of letter to Anthony Albanese dated 11 February 2010).
Casula residents are facing noise levels considered dangerous to health, generated by an increased in freight traffic by the Australia Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) on track passing residents homes. The ARTC is contructing the new Southern Sydney Freight Line (SSFL) but despite a commitment to construct noise barriers along some of the track one of the most noise affected strips, Casula, will not receive barriers. Other residential areas will lower noise levels will, ironically, receive noise barriers as part of the ARTC build.
“The construction by the ARTC of the new SSFL will provide additional freight rail capacity and entrench and exacerbate the existing noise problem,” wrote Mayor Waller in her letter to Albanese.
Minister Albanese’s office confirmed to Streetcorner that no grant application has been submitted to the Minister in relation to Casula noise barriers along the Southern Sydney Freight Line. The ARTC is a corporation that is 100% owned by the Australian Federal Government.
Many local residents believed that following the December Liverpool City Council meeting that a grant application was being submitted under the $120 million Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program but careful reading of the Council motion makes clear that while Liverpool Council considered this route, they decided against this action and instead opted to submit the Whitlam Centre project and to contribute $500,000 towards this project from the 2010/2011 budget should the application be successful.
Casula residents spoke at the Council’s February meeting and thanked them for submitting an application to Minister Anthony Albanese and have been writing to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, asking for him to approve what they understood to be a grant application by Liverpool City Council.
At the December Council Meeting Liverpool City Council considered a report from Council Officers, in relation to a proposed grant under the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program. Under this scheme “funding is available to Council on a competitive basis under the Federal Governments Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program.Funding is available for projects over $1M which are ready to proceed within six months. Preference is to be given to projects that demonstrate community benefit and partnership funding is required.”
Council stated that under the eligiliblity criteria Liverpool Council is able to submit two applications but can only submit two applications if one of those applications is a group on behalf of a group of Councils. Therefore only one project soley within the Liverpool Council area was able to be submitted.
Liverpool City Council chose to submit the Whitlam Centre - Sustainability Refit stating that it would have “significant long term financial benefits due to reduced power and water consumption,” for Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program not the Noise Barriers project after assessing both.
Separately, Liverpool Council then recommended an independent funding application be made for the provision of Noise Barriers at Casula.
Liverpool Council Recommendation 14/12/09 “Submit a separate funding application to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government for the provision of Noise Walls at Casula, subject to a commitment from the State Government for Railcorp to construct the noise walls, should the application be successful.”
This process is partially underway, with the Mayor having written to Anthony Albanese asking for his support and outlining the funding that Council wishes to seek but it is understood that no formal application for funds has been made at this stage.
Streetcorner has written to the Anthony Albanese asking whether the Mayor of Liverpool has received a response to her letter of the 11 February 2010 asking for “assistance in obtaining a funding allocation” and to clarify what the process would need to follow should the Minister agree to the Council’s request to assist Council “in brokering a financial and common sense solution to the issue of noise generated by rail freight traffic.”
Given the noise attenuation works are estimated to cost in the region of $5.1 million, a detailed and formal application would presumably need to be made by Council at some stage, if the Minister indicates his in principle support. All this points to residents being a long way off from knowing whether they will ever get any relief from the ear splitting noise along the Casula rail track.