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Sky rail: Supreme Court dismisses residents’ bid to derail project

The Age, 20 December 2016
A legal bid by angry residents to halt the controversial sky rail project has been dismissed in the [VIC] Supreme Court. Labor is building kilometres of elevated rail track along the Cranbourne Pakenham line between Caulfield and Dandenong station as part of its policy to remove 50 level crossings.

The decision to elevate the track, rather than put the rail under roads, has infuriated some residents.

The Lower Our Tracks Inc group had taken action in the Supreme Court, challenging as unreasonable Planning Minister Richard Wynne’s decision to use powers of discretion during the notification of planning changes.

Justice Timothy Ginnane dismissed the case, saying Mr Wynne was “not required by law to undertake any consultation” and that the inadequacy of consultation argued by Lower Our Tracks did not establish a legal case.

He did say that residents’ “dissatisfaction” with the consultation process were “significant matters”, but that the minister had complied with the law.

The court’s decision left residents disappointed.

Lower Our Tracks secretary Diane Hunt said the case was just “round 1.”

The group has 28 days to appeal and will meet with its counsel to discuss options.

“We knew it was going to be difficult,” Ms Hunt said.

She labelled the sky rail plan a “shemozzle”, with residents still waiting to see plans for the project.

Opposition planning minister David Davis, who was in court for the decision, said the government had still acted wrongly.

“The LOTI committee have made the point this is round 1, the government seems to make a speciality of trampling on local communities,” Mr Davis said.

“Nothing removes the fact this government misled the community about the level crossing removals. It is not over until it’s undone.”

Residents and Mr Davis called on local Labor MP Steve Dimopoulos to release the detailed design plans for his constituents.