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Avoid the ‘Gully Trap’ says Forest And Bird

2 December 2005

Forest and Bird urges Western Corridor Subcommittee to avoid the ‘Gully Trap’

Wellington Branch of the Royal Forest and Bird Society has urged the Western Corridor Subcommittee to avoid the ‘Gully Trap’ that would have us believe building new highways is the only solution to our transport problems.

“The Gully Trap will see the region spend a billion dollars, or more, to build roads that will increase pollution, increase urban sprawl and severely damage the health of key environmental areas such as Pauatahanui Inlet,” said Merrin Pearse, Chairperson of Wellington Branch in his oral submission to the Western Corridor Subcommittee today.

“Supporters of Transmission Gully and the Coastal Highway would have us believe there is no alternative to their plans. The truth is there is an alternative which is enhanced commuter rail services, new park and ride facilities, and safety and reliability improvements at Paekakariki and Pukerua Bay. This package of improvements is not only cheaper than building new roads, but it is more efficient, less polluting and less damaging to our environment.”

Mr Pearse said that Wellington Branch of Forest and Bird was particularly concerned about the potential damage new roads would have on Pauatahanui Inlet.

“Pauatahanui Inlet is an estuary of international significance. It is the only large estuarine wetland left in the lower half of the North Island and covers an area of 4,500 hectares. It is home to or frequented by a number of threatened species, and it is under serious threat from sedimentation and runoff from homes and vehicles”

“Forest and Bird is very concerned that new roads will increase east-west traffic around the inlet that will cause increased pollution and runoff. Recent research is showing that levels of sediment and pollution are already pushing the estuary into decline, and we will oppose any new developments that further threaten the areas health.”

Mr Pearse said that the Branch thought that it was foolish to spend $1 billion, or more, on new roads at a time of increasing oil costs, major concerns over global warming, and when Wellington City was already under severe congestion pressure.

“Transit is currently demolishing large areas of historic Te Aro flat so that commuters can get into town a few minutes faster. Building new roads will only increase congestion in Wellington, and cause demands for yet more road building. Wouldn’t it be far more sensible to upgrade our rail system and fix the safety problems, rather than spend $1 Billion so people can drive at 100 kph into the city?”

ENDS

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