Why has Transport for NSW prepared an Amendment Report (AR)?
Transport for NSW (Transport) submitted a request to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) to amend the project under clause 192 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 (NSW) (EP&A Regulation) to include changes to design and construction since the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) exhibition.
These project changes provide functional improvements to the design and improved integration with surrounding major transport infrastructure projects and potential future development. They also respond to issues raised in community and stakeholder submissions, and in some instances, further reduce the potential impacts of the project as described in the EIS.
DPIE gave Transport approval to amend the project in May 2020 and requested that Transport prepare an Amendment Report to outline the proposed design and construction changes to the project and assesses the associated environmental impact. Where required, the report has included additional or revised environmental management measures to manage or minimise environmental impacts.
Amendment Report chapters
General and overview
Transport is planning to construct and operate the M12 Motorway between the Western Sydney International Airport at Badgerys Creek and Sydney’s motorway network. The EIS described the potential environmental and social impacts that may occur during construction and operation of the project and measures to manage these impacts.
Transport has proposed to amend the project following further design development since exhibition of the EIS. Proposed amendments include design changes and construction updates. The Amendment Report outlines these changes and assesses the associated environmental impacts. The report includes revised environmental managements measures where required to manage or minimise environmental impacts.
The portal provides information about the design and construction features as per the amended project, including a comparison to the key features presented in the EIS.
Chapter 1 and 2
Transport proposes to build the M12 Motorway between the M7 Motorway at Cecil Hills and The Northern Road at Luddenham, over a distance of about 16 kilometres.
The project would provide the main access from the Western Sydney International Airport at Badgerys Creek to Sydney’s motorway network and is expected to be opened to traffic before the opening of the Western Sydney International Airport. The timing of opening of the M12 Motorway is subject to planning approval and the completion of detailed design. However, the motorway is expected to open in 2025.
This chapter provides an overview of the project, details regarding the EIS exhibition, a summary of the proposed changes included in the amended project and outlines the purpose of the Amendment Report.
Proposed design changes
The proposed design amendments associated with the amended project include:
- Amendments to the motorway-to-motorway interchange at the M7 Motorway, including:
- Changes to Elizabeth Drive and Cecil Road intersections, proposed exit ramps, the Wallgrove Road connection to Elizabeth Drive and proposed shared user path realignments
- The widening of Elizabeth Drive under the M7 Motorway and approaches
- An option to provide a new connection between the M12 Motorway and Elizabeth Drive near the M7 Motorway interchange;
- option 1 – without Elizabeth Drive connection
- option 2 – with Elizabeth Drive connection
- Two new signalised intersections into the Western Sydney International Airport, with provisions for future connection to potential developments north of the Western Sydney International Airport
Design refinements have been made as part of the progression of project development that are consistent with the project description in the EIS, including:
- Lowering the height of the M12 Motorway in and around the Western Sydney International Airport interchange
- Reduction in the scope of work associated with the M12 Motorway and The Northern Road intersection
- This intersection would still be constructed, but the main infrastructure work would be delivered as part of The Northern Road upgrade project
- Relocation of utilities
- Changes to property access and acquisition
- Changes to drainage
Chapter 4 and 5
The proposed construction updates associated with the amended project include:
- Additional and amended ancillary facilities to support the delivery of the amended project
- Adjustments to out of hours work and construction program
- Adjustments to earthwork quantities, drainage works, construction access, haulage routes, construction materials, construction access and haulage routes
- Adjustments to the construction footprint to account for the design and construction updates
Project assessment categories
About 80.6 hectares of native vegetation would be removed as part of the amended project, which is about an additional 7 hectares to what was included in the EIS. Additional vegetation to be removed includes threatened ecological communities such as Cumberland plain woodland and Swamp Oak floodplain forest.
There would be changes to impacts on threatened flora, including additional direct and indirect impacts to Pultenaea parviflora and Dillwynia tenuifolia plant species. An additional 9.83 hectares of fauna habitat including woodland, riparian, grassland and aquatic habitat would be removed.
Additional exclusion zones have been included in the environmental management measures for the amended project, particularly to minimise indirect impacts of threatened fauna. Biodiversity offsets required for the project will be secured in accordance with the Biodiversity Offset Strategy for the project and additional offsets would be secured for impacts associated with the amended project.
Transport and traffic
The land use and demographic data used to model traffic for the amended project has been updated to more recent and now available data. With the updated data, the model indicates a reduction in future trips to the South West Growth Area in western Sydney. The forecast traffic volumes using the amended project and the surrounding network have reduced as a result.
Most intersections would perform better during construction for the amended project compared to the project as described in the EIS. This is due to updated (reduced) traffic forecasts.
There has been changes to construction stages, construction footprint, haulage routes and ancillary facilities as part of the amended project. These changes may result in minor impacts to traffic generation, background traffic volumes and patterns and intersection performance.
The option for a connection to the M12 Motorway from Elizabeth Drive (option 2) would generally improve network performance by allowing more traffic to access the high-speed M12 Motorway.
In 2036, the amended project would result in a decrease of total travel time in peak periods through the study area by up to eight per cent compared to existing conditions and an increase in average speeds through the study area by up to nine per cent. These changes reflect the change to the demand growth in the updated traffic model that has resulted in forecast traffic volumes being lower.
Compared to the project as described in the EIS, the performance of all intersections for the amended project improves. This is mainly due to the lower forecast traffic volumes associated with the updated traffic model. The exception to this is The Northern Road / M12 Motorway intersection under option 2 (with Elizabeth Drive connection). In this scenario the performance of this intersection is expected to be poorer as a result of more traffic using the M12 Motorway under option 2 and less traffic using Elizabeth Drive.
Urban design and visual impacts
Visual impacts arising from the proposed design changes primarily relate to new, permanent operational infrastructure and landscape elements impacting on existing views. Key visual receptors subject to high visual impacts include:
- Residential viewers within close proximity to the project (often in elevated locations), such as those in Luddenham Hills, Cecil Park and Kemps Creek
- Travellers’ views along scenic roads such as Luddenham Road
- Recreational viewers within Western Sydney Parklands.
The landscape character and visual impacts associated with the amended project are generally consistent with the impacts described in the EIS. The environmental management measures identified in the EIS are considered appropriate to manage the landscape character and visual amenity impacts associated with the amended project.
Socio-economic, land use and property
The amended project would directly impact on an additional eight properties (three temporary leases and five partial acquisitions) resulting in 49 properties being impacted overall. One additional dwelling would be demolished resulting in a total of 10 dwellings being demolished by the amended project overall.
Changes to property access would be required due to realignment of Wallgrove Road in the amended project resulting in an increase to travel distance of up to 550 metres for some properties.
An additional 86.8 hectares of land would be impacted during construction and an additional 26.2 hectares of land would be impacted for operation of the amended project. Urban and residential land are the main land uses affected by the amended project.
Additional ancillary facilities are also likely to increase disruptions and local amenity for residents in Cecil Park, Luddenham and Kemps Creek as well as to a number of social infrastructure facilities in the vicinity of the amended project. Increased visual amenity impacts would also be expected for residents of Cecil Park due to the Wallgrove Road realignment.
The amended project has the potential to impact two additional Aboriginal heritage sites. One Aboriginal heritage site would be closer to the construction footprint and one additional Aboriginal heritage site would be located within the amended construction footprint. An exclusion zone, including a barrier with signage, would be erected to avoid impacts to this site.
A total of 20 Aboriginal heritage sites are located within the amended construction footprint, however the number of sites subject to direct harm (19) would be consistent with the project as described in the EIS. In addition, the 19 Aboriginal heritage sites identified within the construction footprint as presented in the EIS are not likely to experience any additional impacts as a result of the amended construction project.
The amended project would extend about 18 metres further into the curtilage of the Cecil Park Complex archaeological site than the project as described in the EIS. However, the overall ‘major’ level of impact for this item remains unchanged from the EIS assessment. The EIS included a requirement to prepare a salvage methodology. The salvage methodology has been prepared and is now included within the Amendment Report.
The amended project would also encroach further (about 65 metres) into the locally listed Luddenham Road corridor. The overall impact to this site is still considered to be ‘negligible’, which remains unchanged from the project as described in the EIS.
Noise and vibration
Noise impacts for the amended project would remain generally the same as the impacts described in the EIS, however, both option 1 and option 2 would result in additional construction noise impacts to receivers situated in Cecil Hills, due to proposed widening works on Elizabeth Drive.
Additional construction activities at ancillary facilities were assessed for the amended project including the use of batching plants and crushing and screening equipment. These activities result in ‘moderate’ to ‘high’ construction noise impacts.
Eleven receivers (for option 1) and fourteen receivers (for option 2) may be highly noise affected due to the amended project. This is an increase of four and seven receivers respectively when compared to the project as described in the EIS. Irfan College may experience moderate (option 1) to high (option 2) construction noise impacts due to the amended project, which is an increase from the minor impact expected from the EIS assessment. The increase in impact is due to additional proposed work on Elizabeth Drive.
The amended project generally results in similar predicted day-time noise levels and a reduction in the predicted night-time operational noise levels when compared to the EIS.
When compared to the EIS, noise levels for the amended project are generally predicted to reduce by up to four dB across all noise catchment areas in the night-time period. The reduction in noise levels is due to the reduction in forecast traffic volumes from the updated data used in both the traffic and noise modelling.
Whilst the overall operational noise levels in the amended project are lower, there are some areas where the realignment or changes to localised traffic volumes (Wallgrove Road, Salisbury Avenue and Duff Road) result in increased levels to those presented in the EIS. This is due to the realigned Wallgrove Road moving closer to the dwellings under the amended project.
The amended project also results in an increase of triggered receivers eligible for consideration of additional noise mitigation (212 buildings for option 1; 220 buildings for option 2) when compared to the EIS (183 buildings). The increase is mainly due to an expansion of the operational assessment study area.
The modelling of the main creeks shows there would be a minimal increase to existing afflux levels as a result of the amended project and that surrounding land use would be unaffected by this increase.
However, modelling of the minor drainage lines indicates that an increase in volumes and rates of flow would potentially impact surrounding land use. This would be consistent with the project as described in the EIS and would be managed through mitigation such as detention basins and scour protection. The amended project would extend further into the Badgerys Creek floodplain and would result in an increase in flood levels on the upstream side of Elizabeth Drive.
Additional management measures have been included in the Amendment Report and involve refining the Elizabeth Drive design to minimise flood affectation at Badgerys Creek floodplain and further consultation with the Western Sydney International Airport regarding their flood management.
Surface water quality and hydrology
Surface water quality impacts during construction would be similar to those described in the EIS, Some additional potential impacts to surface water quality may occur due to the following design changes and construction updates if management measures aren’t implemented;
- Ropes Creek bridge widening as part of the proposed amendments to motorway-to motorway interchange at the M7 Motorway
- Extension of the airport access road as part of the proposed signalised intersections into the Western Sydney International Airport
- Additional ancillary facilities proposed to be located within 50 metres of waterways
The surface water quality impacts during the operation of the amended project would be similar to that of the project as described in the EIS.
The amended project would slightly change the catchment areas and its percentage of imperviousness in the areas of the motorway where the road designs have been changed. This would alter the catchment flows to the minor drainage lines that discharge into the tributaries of Ropes Creek, Badgerys Creek and Hinchinbrook Creek during operation. However, there would be negligible to minor impacts to the minor drainage lines and this would be managed through environmental management measures.
Construction and operational water quality controls (basins and swales) would remain unchanged with the exception of six permanent water quality basins. Three of these basins would need to be shifted to accommodate the amended road alignment while the remaining three basins would require changes to their sizes.
Additional hydrological modelling will be undertaken during detailed design of the project.
Groundwater quality and hydrology
Two additional areas of cut for the amended project around the Western Sydney International Airport interchange have been identified as having potential to interact with the groundwater table (overall this makes three areas of cut with potential for groundwater interaction). Potential groundwater inflows at these cuts are assessed to be low with a low level of accompanying groundwater level drawdown predicted. Consistent with the EIS, impacts to groundwater at these locations are anticipated to be minor and localised. The environmental management measures established for the project as described in the EIS would continue to be implemented for the amended project. Additional management measures related to monitoring groundwater in the areas of newly identified cut are proposed as part of the Amendment Report.
Soils and contamination
The EIS identified that detailed site investigations would be carried out for six areas of environmental interest (AEI’s) identified as having a risk ranking of moderate or high for potential contaminants of concern. Based on the amended project, an additional two AEIs with moderate risk ratings were identified.
Additional soil investigations for potential contaminants of concern would also be required at the two additional areas of cut (airport interchange northern cut and airport interchange southern cut). The groundwater quality at these proposed cut locations could be impacted by general filling and agricultural land use in the vicinity. Based on the potential for human health impacts to construction workers, groundwater would also be required to be assessed for potential contaminants of concern.
The environmental management measures identified in the EIS are generally considered appropriate to manage the soil and contamination impacts associated with the amended project. One environmental management measure has been revised to require detailed site investigations at the two additional AEI’s.
Potential dust impacts during construction of the amended project were assessed, including for impacts associated with the additional and amended ancillary facilities. It was determined that the highest level of construction dust risk rating for the amended project was still ‘high’, which is consistent with the EIS.
Changes in air quality were modelled for the amended project and compared to the changes in air quality described in the EIS. It was found that the amended project would not result in any substantial changes to local or regional air quality outcomes compared when compared with the EIS.
The environmental management measures identified in the EIS are considered appropriate to manage the air quality impacts associated with the amended project.
Health and safety
The EIS identified that health risks associated with dust, noise and vibration, contaminated land and other environmental hazards would be low following the implementation of appropriate management measures, such as preparation of a work health and safety plan for the project. The amended project would not result in any substantial changes to health and safety impacts during construction.
Proposed design changes at the M7 interchange included in the amendment project would have a beneficial impact on the safety of motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. Design changes include combining two M7 Motorway off-ramps into a single exit point from the motorway before diverging for access to the M12 Motorway or Elizabeth Drive. This would improve operational performance and driver safety. This is due to the reduction in locations where vehicles would be merging left and decelerating to exit the motorway. A single exit point would also reduce driver confusion. Similarly, for the ramps exiting the M12 Motorway, the combination into a signal exit point from the motorway before diverging would improve safety and performance.
Sustainability themes and objectives were considered within the design of the project and preparation of the EIS. This has been carried through to the design of the amended project and preparation of the Amendment Report. Sustainability outcomes would continue to be achieved within future stages of the project; including detailed design, construction and operation. The environmental management measure identified in the EIS are considered appropriate to ensure the overarching sustainability objectives for the project will be met.
The amended project is not likely result in the generation of additional waste streams during construction. Additional cut material would be excavated for the amended project and the project would require a greater quantity of fill during construction. Surplus excavated material would be minimal and consistent with that described in the EIS.
Wherever possible, excavated material for the amended project would be stockpiled and re-used onsite. It is anticipated that all excavated material that is suitable for reuse would be used within the amended project.
Climate change risk and greenhouse gas
The climate change risks identified for the amended project are generally consistent with the EIS, which included a number of potential moderate and high risks during construction and operation of the project. As such, the amended project is not anticipated to result in any additional or amended climate change impacts when compared to the project as described in the EIS.
Chapter 7 and 8
Revised environmental management measures, conclusion
Transport’s Environmental Policy Statement outlines the commitment to effectively minimise impacts on the environment. The impacts associated with the amended project have been assessed in accordance with the Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARS).
After consideration of the issues raised in the public submissions and the impact assessment carried out for the amended project, the environmental management measures included in the EIS have been revised where required. This chapter presents a consolidated summary of the revised environmental management measures for the amended project.