Under section 111 of the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, authorities such as the RTA with power to approve a new road are required to consider its environmental impact. This must be done in a document called an Environmental Impact Statement which must be in a format prescribed by regulation. There must be consideration of alternatives, and examination of environmental, economic and social consequences of the proposed road (construction and operation of the road are each described as an activity in the law).
While this may seem quite proper in theory, the fact is rather different. The law is stretched in many ways to favour the proposed road. In the first place, the need for the road is described in a way that prevents public transport from competing. Secondly, the economic benefits are magnified by omitting adverse effects the road will have, such as generating extra traffic which causes congestion, offsetting the claimed faster travel. Another way around the law which the RTA has been using recently is to argue falsely that the new road has no environmental impact and that therefore no Environmental Impact Statement need be produced.
This is easy to explain - the transport authorities aren't given enough money to provide proper services on existing routes, let alone build new ones. And several of the few opportunities which have arisen have been lost because the public transport authorities were not given enough time to investigate proposals in detail.
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