Action groups forming to oppose highway plans

Save Centennial Glen: Some of the supporters of the action group in Blackheath.
Save Centennial Glen: Some of the supporters of the action group in Blackheath.

Opposition to highway duplication plans is building in the Upper Mountains, with action groups forming up to defend their homes and idyllic surrounds.

In Blackheath, the Save Centennial Glen group, started by locals who overlook the spectacular western escarpment, has gathered hundreds of supporters, including rock climbers who hold the area in high esteem.

One of the group's instigators, Juliet Bourke, said they had gathered more than 500 members on Facebook within two weeks.

Ms Bourke said the group opposed any option that would involve destruction of Centennial Glen, Shipley Plateau, Porters Pass and Fort Rock.

"It's a spectacular area of bush, it's pristine, it is internationally recognised for rock climbing and it has fantastic flora and fauna," she said.

As well as wishing to retain the beautiful bush, the group also believes a bypass which would straddle or go through the area would be unsafe due to the very high winds and heavy mists that often sweep in from the west.

Save Station Street: Some of the residents who were mistakenly letter-boxed about compulsory acquisitions.

Save Station Street: Some of the residents who were mistakenly letter-boxed about compulsory acquisitions.

She said she was not surprised at how quickly the Facebook group grew.

"I think it speaks to the strength of the sentiment about the area. And It isn't just local residents - it's also environmentalists, tourists and bushwalkers. They have all been aghast [at the plans]."

The area had significance for the local Indigenous population and also for white settlers, with Porters Pass one of the oldest walks in the area.

The group was not advocating for any other option at this stage "because we don't have enough information", Ms Bourke said.

Blackheath Highway Action Group: Michael Paag discusses the options with local resident, Eva Johnstone, in Blackheath village on Saturday morning.

Blackheath Highway Action Group: Michael Paag discusses the options with local resident, Eva Johnstone, in Blackheath village on Saturday morning.

A second group is Save Station Street, formed by residents who were mistakenly letter-boxed with leaflets warning that their homes may have to be compulsorily acquired.

While apology letters have since been delivered, there is lingering doubt about whether their homes are truly out of the woods.

And many feel the damage has already been done, with little chance of selling their properties at any time in the near future.

BAG advertisement in the Gazette from 2009.

BAG advertisement in the Gazette from 2009.

There is also the Blackheath Highway Action Group (BAG) which has been going for many years. BAG is a veteran of highway battles, having seen off a proposal in 2009 for an upgrade.

The RMS will host an information night in Blackheath tomorrow night (Tuesday, December 10) in the community hall. Doors open 5pm, meeting starts 6pm.