Blue Mountains councillors unite to fight highway plans

Blue Mountains councillors put politics aside to roundly condemn the state government proposal to duplicate the highway from Katoomba to Little Hartley.

At the council meeting on Tuesday night (November 26) all councillors agreed that the council should write to Premier Gladys Berejiklian and local MPs calling for support to push the state government to cancel the plan and put more freight on the rails.

Mayor Mark Greenhill said: "You've put politics aside and the community first ... I'm deeply proud."

Council heard there were "grave concerns" about destruction of native bushland, effect on local communities, possible resumption of homes, removal of residential and community amenity, the increasing number of trucks and the introduction of large trucks at Katoomba onto the Great Western Highway "impacting every town from there to Lapstone".

Council also heard there would be increasing volume of larger trucks from the east joining the Great Western Highway at Lapstone and heading west. And there was a possible impact on world heritage status, as well as a "profound impact on businesses in the villages" and an impact on cultural heritage.

Cr Greenhill said it would "fundamentally change the quality of life of every Mountains resident".

"Every option you go with - it will wreck Blackheath, it will wreck Mt Victoria," Cr Greenhill said. "We won't see investment in rail, because it's been locked into roads," he added.

Blackheath traffic: A duplicated highway would cater for trucks up to 30 metres long.

Blackheath traffic: A duplicated highway would cater for trucks up to 30 metres long.

Labor Ward 1 Cr Don McGregor said it had put a "pall over the community just before Christmas and the minister himself needs to apologise for what he has put them through."

"There are contracts for new houses [in Blackheath] that have had to be abandoned, because of this threat hanging over their homes," Cr McGregor said.

Independent Cr Shae Foenander called the plans "a travesty" and said with larger 30 metre long trucks on the road "deaths would happen". Greens Cr Kerry Brown said the issue had made "Blackheath the pinchpoint for a national issue" about rail and freight.

Liberal Cr Brendan Christie said it "would bring more pain to the Lower Mountains" in terms of extra traffic "because of a flip flopping Nationals Member from Bathurst".

Fellow Liberal Cr Daniel Myles said he was concerned that with "tourism booming and unemployment down to 2.5 per cent in the Mountains, lower than Sydney and the rest of Australia ... trucks being driven like sports cars ... [were set to] belch out their pollution".

Cr Hoare said he had been informed by Centennial Coal there was "ample capacity on rail lines" for more freight.

It was also resolved that councillors will be briefed by Blackheath Highway Action Group (BAG) spokesman Michael Paag who recently addressed a large public meeting about the issue. The matter passed unanimously.