The Roads and Maritime Services is committed to minimising the potential impact of the Great Western Highway upgrade on the natural environment of the Blue Mountains.

One of Australia's oldest routes, the Great Western Highway passes through the world heritage listed Blue Mountains National Park.  It is also a freight corridor to the central west and is used by thousands of commuters between the villages of the Blue Mountains and Sydney.

Roads and Maritime Services ensures that identified impacts on the natural environment are managed in accordance with current NSW State and Federal environmental legislation.

All projects undergo environmental assessment and community consultation before they proceed. Some of Roads and Maritime Services environmental assessment and management activities are highlighted below.

Environmental assessment

Roads and Maritime Services ensures that potential environmental impact is managed according to current State and Federal environmental legislation.

Studies investigate and assess the possible result of proposed works on both human and ecological environments:

  • Air and water quality.
  • Aquatic ecology, e.g. rivers, creeks, wetlands.
  • Cultural heritage (indigenous and non-indigenous).
  • Flora and fauna, including important animal habitats.
  • Noise and vibration.
  • Hydrology, drainage and flooding.
  • Residential and commercial areas.
  • Property and land uses.
  • Traffic and transport.
  • Visual quality and landscape character.

Other factors to consider when developing a road include:

  • Geology and soil conditions.
  • Utilities and services current and proposed.
  • Earthworks required.

Roads and Maritime Services prepares an environmental assessment for the project as required by the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act and Roads and Maritime Services own guidelines.

When preparing an environmental assessment, Roads and Maritime Services liaises with various organisations, including State Government agencies, local government, the community groups and individuals.

Environmental management during construction

Measures to minimise impacts on the environment during construction and operational stages include:

  • Erosion and sedimentation controls including temporary and permanent controls and the installation of sediment basins.
  • Fauna underpasses where warranted or where they can be integrated with drainage structures and fauna exclusion fencing in important fauna corridors.
  • Revegetating of areas with native species.
  • A thorough search for potential heritage items, or items of cultural interest.
  • Noise mounds, noise walls or treatment of residences, where noise criteria are exceeded on new construction projects.
  • Air and water quality monitoring.

A construction environmental management plan, or other appropriate environmental plan is prepared for each Great Western Highway project. The plan shows how to implement safeguard measures and how the conditions of approval identified during the environmental assessment are to be met.

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