Daniel Andrews urged to reconsider Metro design after heritage protection.
Matt Johnston, Herald Sun February 10, 2017 6:13pm
PREMIER Daniel Andrews is being urged to reconsider the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel design after emergency heritage protection was given to St Kilda Road.
Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg has endorsed a heritage application made by former federal Labor MP Barry Jones and former federal Liberal Party vice-president Tom Harley.
After making the announcement, Mr Frydenberg wrote to Mr Andrews to ask for the government to change the current scope of the Metro project, which will run from South Yarra to Kensington and create five new underground stations.
The emergency heritage listing will not revoke approvals to construct the 9 km rail tunnel that have already been obtained by the state.
But Mr Frydenberg said he hoped it would encourage the government to reconsider the design to “lessen its impact on the heritage values of the precinct, and in particular reduce the number of trees planned for removal within the National Heritage boundary”.
The Herald Sun revealed earlier this year that Mr Jones and Mr Harley, who have held roles with the World Heritage Committee and Australian Heritage Council respectively, had applied for the listing.
Mr Jones and Mr Harley said they did not want to project derailed, because it was much needed.
But they said it could be altered to include a deeper tunnel to better protect the street that is one of the country’s most iconic.
“This area was really seen as an expression of Australia’s beauty, its wonder, and so on,” Mr Jones said.
After hearing of the listing, Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said it appeared Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was trying to stop an important rail project.
“The Turnbull Government hasn’t invested a cent in passenger rail in Victoria and is now trying to stop the most important public transport project since the City Loop,” she said.
In his letter to Mr Andrews, Mr Frydenberg said the emergency listing did not change the fact that the State Government had approval for the project to proceed.
But Mr Frydenberg said that if the project design was changed from what it currently is, it would have to take into account the heritage overlay.
“The National Heritage List is a list of Australia’s most important heritage places including the Great Ocean Road, Melbourne Cricket Ground and the Royal Exhibition Building,” he said.
“The Government is of the belief that St Kilda Road and its surrounding environment deserves the protection and recognition being provided through this emergency listing.”