Pacific Highway Upgrade environment
Roads and Maritime Services (formerly Roads and Traffic Authority) aims to minimise any potential effects work on the Pacific Highway has on the natural environment.
Any identified impacts managed in line with current NSW State and Federal environmental laws.
Environmental management starts before the project is approved and continues through all stages of the project.
Considering the environment before construction
Before a project has been approved, environmental effects are assessed and the community and key stakeholders are consulted.
Environmental studies may include:
- Air and water quality.
- Aquatic ecology (rivers, creeks, wetlands).
- Cultural heritage (indigenous and non indigenous).
- Plants and animals.
- Noise and vibration.
- Hydrology and drainage.
- Geology and soil conditions.
- Earthworks required.
- Utilities current and proposed.
- Residential and commercial areas.
- Property and land use.
- Traffic and transport.
- Visual quality and landscape character.
Generally Pacific Highway upgrade projects require approval by the NSW Minister for Planning. Depending on the nature of impacts, approval by the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment may also be needed.
Approved projects have a number of conditions that have to be met before, during and after construction.
Environmental management – construction
A construction environmental management plan and / or other appropriate management plans are prepared for each project.
The plans contain measures to protect the environment, including:
- Soil erosion and sediment controls, including temporary and permanent soil controls (eg. installing sediment basins).
- Animal underpasses (sometimes integrated with drainage structures) and animal exclusion fencing in important fauna corridors.
- Revegetating cleared areas with native plant species.
- Noise, air and water quality monitoring during construction.
Measures to reduce noise during and after construction are also considered, including:
- Noise walls (concrete, transparent material or combination).
- Noise mounds (earth mounds).
- Combination of mounds and walls.
- Property treatments (double glazed windows, air ventilation etc).
Environmental management – new road operating
Within the first 12 months of the new road opening, noise levels are assessed to determine:
- The accuracy of the noise levels predicted when planning the project.
- The effectiveness of the noise-reducing measures adopted.
- If there is a need to implement further noise-reducing measures.