Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 5 August 2015) . . Page.. 2386 ..
grown from fewer than a thousand people to where we are approaching 400,000 people now. By 2050 there will be well over half a million people in our nation’s capital.
The ACT government’s investment in light rail is part of a broader strategic approach to reshape the way Canberra grows to ensure we develop a more compact and sustainable city. We need to reduce our high car dependency to ensure that we do not fall into the congestion trap experienced by other cities—congestion that is already costing Canberra $200 million a year. As our city continues to grow, our dependence on the car is leading to increasing congestion, also loss of productivity, reduced air quality and associated health impacts, noise pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The realisation of these impacts is leading us to rethink priorities and see the benefits of a well-integrated public transport network.
Canberra has the highest car dependence of any major Australian city, with transport now being responsible for 25 per cent of the ACT’s greenhouse gas emissions. These figures will continue to grow, harming the environment and our health if we do not act now. And while we will continue to invest in our road network across the city, it is important to remember that we need to look at more sustainable solutions if we want to improve the livability of our city.
As with many cities around the world, Canberra’s population growth and car dependence have led to a city of low density urban sprawl. Urban sprawl is unsustainable and outdated. These areas cost more to develop as they require large expanses of roads, water and sewerage, and other government services are needed to serve fewer people over a larger area. There is substantial evidence linking urban sprawl to adverse environmental impacts. Urban sprawl changes land use and contributes to reduced biodiversity through loss of native vegetation and the impact on natural habitats for wildlife.
As the territory begins to run out of developable land within our constrained borders it makes sense to look at how we can maximise the use of already developed urban areas. In fact, during my recent consultation on the development of a statement of planning intent it was clearly communicated to me that there is a strong desire in the community to limit this sprawl and see higher density development and adaptive reuse of existing sites and infrastructure in the city centre, town and group centres and that they be developed with good connections to public transport.
Investment in light rail as part of a broader transport network is logical as it is a proven technology that can shape effective and well-functioning cities. Light rail can stimulate urban renewal, encourage smarter, denser development in the city and support the ACT’s strategy of increasing housing density along transport corridors. The capital metro project will encourage urban intensification, allowing our city to infill and encourage smart, future investment along the light rail corridor.
Capital metro stage 1 from the city to Gungahlin will play a significant role in supporting changed settlement patterns and transit-oriented development. A study by Curtin University found that on average urban infill development costs $300 million less than urban sprawl per 1,000 dwellings. What this means is that urban infill can cost up to 130 per cent less than greenfield development.