Defence College

I am responding to an advertisement in the Canberra Times of Saturday 1 May 1999 concerning a public inquiry to be held by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works into the Defence Forces Staff Colleges Collocation Project in Weston Creek.

The Hon. Judi Moylan MP
Chairperson
Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works.

Dear Ms Moylan

I am responding to an advertisement in the Canberra Times of Saturday 1 May 1999 concerning a public inquiry to be held by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works into the Defence Forces Staff Colleges Collocation Project in Weston Creek.

The Weston Creek Community Council appreciates the opportunity of being able to make a brief submission to the Committee about this project. I have attached a statement showing the background to the Weston Creek Community Council and its relationship to the local community and to the ACT Government.

The issue of the expansion of the present Defence personnel training facilities at Weston Creek has been discussed at a number of meetings of the Community Council in recent months and the proposal has been warmly received. We are not aware of any opposition to the proposal from local residents.

However, there are two issues of concern to the local community which I have been asked to bring to your attention. The first of these is the question of road access to the site and the second of these is the question of the lighting of the complex.

In the Community Council submission to the ACT Government on the 1999/2000 ACT Budget (available on our web site) we drew attention to the traffic congestion which occurs in peak hours at the intersection of Kirkpatrick Street and the Cotter Road. The congestion is caused by motorists going west wishing to turn right at Kirkpatrick Street (ie to enter the College). The problem is made worse from an increase in traffic from west Belconnen going to Woden and Tuggeranong using Coppins Crossing and the Cotter Road to avoid the Glenloch Interchange. We have made representations that the Cotter Road between the Tuggeranong Parkway and Streeton Drive should be duplicated particularly as the expansion of the College will expand the numbers of people using the site and make existing traffic problems worse. We would hope that the Defence Force authorities would support our submission for this road to be duplicated or improved in some other way. The ACT Government has indicated that the traffic situation on the Cotter Road will be reviewed in the light of the College development project and we can keep you informed of our negotiations on this issue if you wish.

The other issue concerns the outside lighting of the Staff College. Many people are unaware that there is a moratorium in place banning further development in some areas of Weston Creek for the next five years or so to help keep the Mt Stromlo Observatory astronomical research program in Canberra. (The moratorium does not affect the proposed Staff College development.) The astronomers at Mt Stromlo have indicated that they wish to keep some of their activities in Canberra but their work has been compromised in recent years by the expansion of Canberra and the spread of unsuitable street lighting. The Community Council is attempting to do what we can to keep the Mt Stromlo Observatory operational.

I understand that the astronomers are less affected by sodium vapour lighting (because this occupies a narrow band of the visible light spectrum) than mercury vapour street lights. It is better still to reduce visible light emissions to the absolute minimum. On this issue the present lighting at the formal gates to the Staff College complex are quite unsuitable because they consist of mercury vapour lights with clear glass tops and throw quite an amount of light into the air where of course the light is not needed. These lanterns need to be replaced with alternative designs which throw the light downwards where it is needed.

Professor Colin Keay, a retired physicist from the University of Newcastle, has given evidence that the Observatories at Tucson in Arizona were similarly affected by light emissions but with the co-operation of the community better lighting has gradually been installed. This has not only benefited the Observatories but the city as well because the new lights proved to be more efficient by saving power costs and providing more effective security.

We would like the Defence Department to keep this consideration in mind in designing the new buildings and outside facilities for the Staff College. We believe that there would be no extra cost involved in providing suitable outside lighting and indeed the lights may even save money in the long run. Attention to this detail would mean that the Collocated College would live up to an image of being a good neighbour and help us to keep the Observatory in Canberra.

The Weston Creek Community Council enthusiastically supports the Defence Forces Staff Colleges Collocation Project in Weston Creek.

Yours sincerely

Bob Sutherland
Chairperson
WCCC

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