Inner-west residents are outraged they have been given just 30 working days to respond to a 10,000-page environmental effects statement for the West Gate Tunnel project.
The EES document for the project – previously known as the Western Distributor – was released on Monday.
The project is a proposed five-kilometre tollway that will link the West Gate Freeway at Yarraville with CityLink at Docklands.
The $5.5 billion tollway will have at least two city off-ramps, one in the west and one in the north.
The Spotswood South Kingsville Residents Group says the government got the consultation period wrong.
In a letter to the government, the group is calling for an extension from 30 to 90 days.
“There are fears that the formal submission process and panel hearings will be beyond the expertise and resources of our community, and similarly affected communities along the corridor, or the general public,” the letter states.
“We don’t trust that a government can be a partner in the project, a proponent, and simultaneously be the assessor protecting public interest of the project’s merits especially when consultations to date have been so manifestly inadequate.” The group is also asking for community resources “to ensure they (residents) can participate in the process” and “get appropriate technical advice to represent their interests”.
Maribyrnong infrastructure services director Sunil Bhalla said the council had hired specialists in areas including traffic to assist the council in responding to the document.
Greens MP Colleen Hartland labelled the response timeframe “disgusting”.
“This is 10,000 pages,” she said. “How can the community be expected to respond in 30 days? We had asked the government for an extension, which they have refused.
“There had been enough consultation about various things, but not about this, the finished product. If they were serious about community consultation they would give at least 60 days.”
At a press conference in Yarraville on Monday, Roads Minister Luke Donnellan said there had been years of consultation.
“No one would suggest we have hidden this project under a bushel,” Mr Donnellan said.
“We have been out there for many years consulting with the community, ensuring we get it right.”
The EES can be viewed at westgatetunnelproject.vic.gov.au/ees. It is open for comment until Monday, July 10.