NSW government acknowledges peak oil but continues business as usual regardless

In its recent submission to Infrastructure Australia, the NSW government acknowledges peak oil but proposes a list of projects which does not reflect its own analysis. We read:

“2.8 Planning for an Energy Constrained World

Cities and regions, due to their scale, are large consumers of scarce resources. They are at risk from peak oil and climate change, but they also provide the opportunities for reducing emissions and mitigating impacts.

Peak oil refers to the situation when the production of oil reaches a maximum with production beginning to decline from that point onwards, with a consequent rise in prices. There is much debate as to the existence of peak oil and predicting the peak is extremely difficult. Nevertheless, the captivity of many Australians to oil and the threat of rising prices (with or without peak oil) may leave many in hardship without alternative transportation choices. Those people most reliant on cars as their primary form of transport, located in outer urban and regional areas, are the most vulnerable. These are also typically those households with high debts and lower socio–economic status. lower socio–economic status.

[The Griffith Uni’s Vampire index is shown in Fig 9]

A carbon–constrained economy is imminent. Market forces will demand individuals, governments and organisations minimise greenhouse gas emissions in response to global climate change. In cities, this will mean the need to reduce private vehicle travel in preference for public transport and prioritise more local travel.

These challenges reinforce the importance of integrated land use and transport to maximise development opportunities in locations accessible by public transport Cities and regions have a responsibility to act early in providing solutions to addressing a future of peak oil and a carbon constrained economy.

While there can be debate about the relative importance of the above challenges and about future of the motor car, peak oil, climate change, and so on, it makes sense to shape our communities and transport systems by planning with some key principles in mind:

Jobs closer to home;

Reducing pollution from transport;

Efficient use of energy;

Economic efficiency.


(web site with PDF link ,108 Mb, 544 pages)

So let’s have a look at the proposed projects:



What the NSW government is asking of the federal government for Sydney:

North West Rail Link $7.54 billion

M2-F3 link $4.75 billion.

M4 East $8 billion

M5 East Expansion $5 billion

Northern Sydney Freight Rail Corridor $7.9 billion


So do the 3 tollway projects above (and the M2 widening proposal which competes with the North West Rail Link ) prepare for a carbon constrained economy?

In another quote from the NSW submission:

“National Policy Agenda

3. Preparing for challenges of the future….including an uncertain global economic future, climate change, an ageing population and long-term food and water supply” (page 11)

An uncertain global economic future means of course tight Federal and State budgets. Why then do we have an expensive rail tunnel in that list (and the proposal for a rail tunnel Epping – Parramatta) ? This graph from Hamburg shows that light rail could be 4-5 times more economic than rail tunnels.

Conclusion: What we see in this latest NSW submission is that a business-as-usual list of projects had been decided upon long time ago and that some clever text has been added in the documentation to give the impression it recognizes a new paradigm while in essence this is not the case.

In reality, the RTA pushes ahead with the M2 widening:

More cars will use wider M2, making it even slower


In an earlier post I had listed 40 questions which have to be answered before any road and transport planning is done:

RTA fails to present business case for M2 widening (part 1)

M2 widening: Primary Energy Dilemma for cars

Here are the solutions:

Submission Sydney’s Metropolitan Transport Plan