Sydney Harbour

Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link

The NSW Government continues to progress planning for the proposed Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link.

Latest news

JAN 2021

JAN 2021Western Harbour Tunnel & Warringah Fwy Upgrade gets approval

We are pleased to announce the Western Harbour Tunnel and Warringah Freeway Upgrade has been approved by the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces.

The project will be constructed and operated in accordance with the Ministers Conditions of Approval. A copy of these conditions can be found on the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment's (DPIE) website.

For more information, please see our January 2021 Community Update (PDF, 433Kb). Alternatively, to speak to a team member, call us on 1800 931 189 or email whtbl@transport.nsw.gov.au.

Project information

The Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link program is an important part of our vision to create an integrated road and public transport network, balancing the needs of motorists and local communities.

The program consists of:

  • Western Harbour Tunnel which stretches from the Warringah Freeway at Cammeray, across Sydney Harbour, to the WestConnex interchange at Rozelle.
  • Beaches Link which provides an alternative to the Spit Bridge for the Northern Beaches, connecting through to the Warringah Freeway and Gore Hill Freeway.

We will also be upgrading the connection point of the two tunnels, the Warringah Freeway.

Since mid-2018 we have been on a process of extensive community consultation on the reference designs of these projects.

The latest information can be found in the projects community updates:

Proposed reference design
View or download the proposed reference design map (JPG, 1.71Mb).

The proposed reference design for Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link was released on 26 July 2018 and extensive community engagement was undertaken through to 1 December 2018.

The engagement included 20 community information sessions that were held across the proposed alignment, including at Balmain, North Sydney, Crows Nest, Mosman, Cammeray and Balgowlah. The sessions were attended by more than 2,600 people.

In total, more than 7,300 items of feedback were received by the project team during the engagement phase, including more than 4,000 comments pinned to two online comment maps.

The 2018 community engagement builds on the engagement carried out for the 2017 concept design.

Between 29 January 2020 and 30 March 2020 we carried out a wide range of community engagement activities to consult with communities along the project’s alignment and talk to them about the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This included but was not limited to:

  • Eight community information sessions, held at Balmain, North Sydney and Cammeray
  • Letterbox drops of postcards inviting local residents to community information sessions
  • Door knocks of impacted properties
  • Interactive portal with project information, maps and videos
  • Advertisements in major and local newspapers
  • Public display of the EIS at Stanton Library, the Crows Nest Centre, Inner West Council’s Leichardt Office, Chatswood Library, Willoughby Council, Transport for NSW at Ennis Road, and North Sydney Council
  • A wide range of social media activities, including postings on facebook and LinkedIn.

All feedback received on the proposed reference design has been recorded in the project database and has been considered by the project team in preparation for the exhibition of the EIS.

Western Harbour Tunnel

Access is now closed for comment. However, you may view the Western Harbour Tunnel online tool to see what others had to say about the project.

Beaches Link

Access is now closed for comment. However, you may view the Beaches Link online tool to see what others had to say about the project.

As with any major transport infrastructure project, the Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link projects are subject to a rigorous and comprehensive environmental impact assessment.

This assessment examines all potential environmental and social impacts that may occur during the construction and operation of the project, and proposes mitigation measures to avoid and manage these impacts. This includes traffic, air quality, noise and vibration, spoil disposal, sediment management, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal heritage, flora, fauna and marine ecology and sustainability.

In addition, as we prepare the Environmental Impact Statements, we take into consideration the feedback that was received on the proposed reference design during the 2018 community engagement period.

There will be two separate Environmental Impact Statements – one for Western Harbour Tunnel Warringah Freeway upgrade, which was on public exhibition from 29 January 2020 to 30 March 2020; and one for Beaches Link and Gore Hill Freeway connection, which will be released later in 2020. Each is required to address the Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs), which was issued in December 2017. The SEARs establish issues that must be addressed in the Environmental Impact Statement.

The environmental assessment is managed by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE). During the public exhibition period of an EIS, the documents are made available to view on the DPIE website and via the project portals. During this time, you are invited to make formal submissions on the project and further community engagement is carried out.

The Environmental Impact Statements are reviewed by DPIE, the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, the NSW Chief Health Officer, and independent reviewers before planning approval can be granted.

Project progress planning timeline

Project timeline

  • Preliminary planning - 2015-2017
  • Initial design - March 2017
  • State Significant Infrastructure Application - November 2017
  • Proposed reference design – 26 July, 2018
  • Community engagement - 26 July - 1 December, 2018
  • Environmental assessment - WE ARE HERE
  • Seek planning approval
  • Construction
  • Open to traffic.

The NSW Government announced in February 2018 stronger measures on emissions from motorway tunnels.

Under these reforms, the ventilation outlets of all current and future operating motorway tunnels in NSW will be regulated by the NSW Environment Protection Authority. The EPA will require tunnel operators to meet air quality limits and undertake air quality monitoring, where practicable.

Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link is one of the first major transport infrastructure programs in NSW required to undergo additional checks before planning determination which includes the:

  • Advisory Committee on Tunnel Air Quality (ACTAQ) coordinating a scientific review of the project’s air emissions from ventilation outlets
  • NSW Chief Health Officer releasing a statement on the potential health impacts of emissions from tunnel ventilation outlets; and
  • Minister for Planning not approving a motorway tunnel project until the ACTAQ scientific review is considered.

Existing measures monitoring the air quality inside motorway tunnels remain in place.

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