According to various media reports, the Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link toll roads will use similar smokestack configurations installed in NSW over the past decade, however, with these latest projects, the smokestacks will be between 200m and 500m away from some of the best known public schools in NSW, along with a few equally well-known and exclusive private schools.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), North Sydney’s Wenona School, the Anzac Park Primary School in Cammeray and Seaforth Public School, Monte Saint Angelo Mercy College, Marist North Shore College, St. Thomas Anglican school, North Sydney High School – all in North Sydney, along with Crows Nest TAFE- are set to be close to the location of the smokestacks.

The SMH story notes that the smokestacks will be between 20 and 35 metres in height, designed to push the fumes from the thousands of vehicles into the atmosphere. Each smokestack, says the SMH story, would have its own ventilation plant.

However, according to the NSW Roads and Maritime (RMS), while not addressing the smokestack issue directly, there should be no cause for alert nor alarm.

In a prepared statement for Architecture & Design, the RMS pointed out that the Western Harbour Tunnel & Beaches Link proposal was identified in the 2012 Long Term Transport Master Plan and other major planning documents as “a priority infrastructure project for Sydney.”

“This new crossing of Sydney Harbour,” said the RMS statement, “will help to address the $6 billion annual cost to the economy from congestion by providing a bypass for the Sydney’s busiest transport corridor, the Harbour Bridge.”

“It is part of an integrated multi-modal approach to transport, which includes a $73 billion total capital spend for roads and public transport projects, more than half of which is dedicated to mass transit public transport projects.”

“No decision has been made on the location of tunnel portals, work sites or permanent operational structures including ventilation facilities.,” according to the RMS, which also noted that, “The project is at the concept design stage with extensive testing, design work and community consultation being carried out for the next 12 months to establish a reference design.”

At the same time, the media reports noted that these toll roads were declared as being “critical state significant infrastructure” meaning that appeals to the Land and Environment Court without the agreement of the planning minister would “not be possible.”