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Warringal Conservation Society

In October 2021 it was announced that the North East Link Project (NELP) had been redesigned to feature a longer bored tunnel to the north emerging just beyond Yallambie Rd. On the face of it this seemed a promising development because an extended tunnel could negate the need for a trench through environmentally sensitive remnant bushland at the Simpson Army Barracks. This was an approach favoured by the North East Link Hearing Expert Advisory Panel to reduce both social and environmental impacts. The Panel's advice was ultimately ignored by the Minister for Planning (see our report on the Panel’s findings and the Minister’s decision). Unfortunately, the redesigned North East Link relocates the Lower Plenty Interchange to high value remnant Bushland in the Simpson Barracks which contains one of the most significant remaining populations of the endangered Matted Flax-lily and the last viable stand of the rare Studley Park Gum. The relocated interchange will most likely eliminate any environmental gains made through a longer tunnel. When Warringal Conservation Society, Friends of Banyule and other community representatives spoke with NELP in December 2021, they could not tell us whether the environmental impact of the new design was better, worse or the same because they still had to work out the details. Clearly preserving remnant bushland for threatened species was not a major consideration during the redesign.