New approach for environmental assessment for Blue Mountains communities

22 February 2022

The environmental assessments for the Great Western Highway duplication between Katoomba and Blackheath will be considered and determined together to capture all potential impacts of the upgrade.

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said the NSW Government was listening to feedback and taking steps to give the Blue Mountains community more confidence about the environmental assessment of this critical infrastructure project.

“The Great Western Highway upgrade is a huge undertaking and we have to get it right,” Mr Farraway said.

“This project will transform journeys between the Central West and the East Coast, delivering a safer and more efficient journey.

“It is critical we protect the Blue Mountains environment and the liveability of the villages along the Highway as part of this legacy project.

“We have heard council and the community loud and clear, and we will determine the East Section and the Medlow Bath Reviews of Environmental Factors (REF) together to make sure we consider all of the impacts in one simultaneous review.

“We will hold an extended consultation period for the East section REF, to allow sufficient time for everyone to provide their feedback.

“While we’re taking the time to assess all potential impacts, we will deliver the standalone safety improvements on the Medlow Bath upgrade as soon as we can.

“The project team will begin early industry engagement in February, but to be clear this tender will only be awarded once the REFs are determined and all final environmental conditions have been addressed.”

Transport for NSW will aim to exhibit the REF for the East section of the highway upgrade between the towns of Katoomba and Medlow Bath and Medlow Bath and Blackheath, in the first half of 2022.

The duplication of the Great Western Highway between Katoomba and Lithgow is jointly funded by the Australian and NSW Governments.

The REF for the Little Hartley to Lithgow section of the upgrade was displayed from 23 November to 16 January and public feedback is being compiled.

A separate environmental assessment will be made for the central tunnel section, expected in the second half of 2022.

Early work on the Medlow Bath section of the upgrade is scheduled to start in late 2022.

For more information visit the Great Western Highway Upgrade Program page.

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