VCAT has made the outrageous decision to approve a child care centre at the corner of Williamstown Road and Francis Street. This intersection is arguably the most polluted in Melbourne and completely inappropriate for a child care centre!
Children are highly susceptible to the health impacts of air pollution as they spend more time outdoors and are more active. They breathe more quickly and breathe proportionately more air than adults. Their lungs and immune system are still developing and exposure early in life means damaged cells have less ability to repair. Health impacts on children include asthma, respiratory infections, decreased lung function and impaired cognitive development. The health impacts on children in the City of Maribyrnong are already evident – we have Victoria’s highest rate of child hospital admissions for respiratory illness and the asthma rate among Maribyrnong adolescents is 50% higher than the rest of Victoria. In 2014 Environmental Justice Australia named Yarraville as one of Australia’s top 12 air pollution hot spots in their major report on air pollution, Clearing The Air. This year Asthma Victoria launched a campaign to raise awareness of the links between air pollution and asthma in the inner west.
The EPA recently carried out a 12 month air monitoring study on Francis Street and found that ultra fine particulate matter, known as PM2.5s, measured above the annual advisory standard. These tiny particles are particularly dangerous to our health as we cannot cough them up and they lodge themselves into our bodies causing damage. The EPA study was done on a free flowing section of Francis Street, not on an intersection where trucks are regularly idling. Pollution at busy intersections has been found to be 29 times higher than on open roads!
It’s important to remember that there is no safe level of exposure to diesel exhaust, for anyone. There could not be a worse place for young children to be!
When Southern Capital Corporation register this centre with the child care regulator they will have to abide by the Education and Care Services National Law 2010. Section 49 states that applications for a childcare facility can be refused on the grounds of unacceptable risk to the safety, health or wellbeing of the children. Hopefully the regulator can clearly see that this location most definitely poses an unacceptable risk.
What can you do?
Write to your local councillors:
The Maribyrnong Council have 28 days to appeal the VCAT decision at the Supreme Court of Victoria but it’s almost up and we understand the permit has already been issued. Please write to your local councillors as well as Stephen Wall, CEO of Maribyrnong City Council asking them why council didn’t lodge an objection. VCAT should have taken health and air quality into account and their decision should have been appealed for this reason. Council also need to amend the planning scheme so that this doesn’t happen again. The planning scheme must have restrictive use placed on sites close to main roads so they can’t be used as childcare centres, kindergartens or schools. With the expected increase in port traffic and the expanding population we need to address this now. If the Maribyrnong City Council’s Local Planning Policy Framework had contained measures for restrictions for sensitive sites, this development never would have made it to VCAT.
The Maribyrnong Council have been a good ally to MTAG and they did try to prevent this project from going ahead. But they need to know that the community expects them to do more. Yes we have a childcare shortage but that doesn’t make it ok to accept a child care centre in a location that will severely compromise the health of the children.
Here is a suggested letter for you. Feel free to cut and paste or write your own.
Dear Councilor xxxxxxx
I am writing to you to express my deep concerns regarding the go-ahead given for a childcare centre to be built on the corner of Francis St and Williamstown Rd in Yarraville.
This intersection experiences over 6,000 truck movements per day that spew dirty diesel exhaust into the air. That is approximately 428 trucks per hour, not including curfew times. This ridiculous number of trucks almost defies belief. Babies and toddlers do not belong in the middle of this.
The world health organisation says there is no safe level of exposure to diesel exhaust. Health experts know that children’s developing lungs are the most susceptible to impacts from diesel emissions. Many schools in the USA do not even allow school buses to idle outside of schools. However we are going to place a childcare centre right on one of Australia’s most polluted intersections, just metres from the trucks.
It is the role of government to protect the health of its citizens. Maribyrnong kids already have asthma rates 50% higher than Victoria’s average. The air pollution we experience now as result of the trucks is unacceptable, let alone actually putting babies and toddlers right on Francis St.
Why didn’t Maribyrnong Council lodge an objection to this VCAT decision?
I implore you to do everything you can to stop this proposal and to also amend the planning scheme so that this never happens again. There must be a restrictive use placed on sites close to truck routes so that they can’t be used for child care centres, kindergartens or schools
I look forward to hearing what action you will be taking
Send your emails to:
CEO Stephen Wall – firstname.lastname@example.org
Cr Martin Zakharov – Cr.Zakharov@maribyrnong.vic.gov.au
Cr Simon Crawford – Cr.Crawford@maribyrnong.vic.gov.au
Cr Mia McGregor – Cr.McGregor@maribyrnong.vic.gov.au
Cr Catherine Cumming – Cr.Cumming@maribyrnong.vic.gov.au
Cr Sarah Carter – Cr.Carter@maribyrnong.vic.gov.au
Cr Cuc Lam – Cr.Lam@maribyrnong.vic.gov.au
Cr Gina Huynh – Cr.Huynh@maribyrnong.vic.gov.au