Schools join up to speak out against the Southern Link

Schools in the Victory corridor have banded together to speak out against the proposed Southern Link.

Schools in the Victory corridor have banded together to speak out against the proposed Southern Link.

Nelson schools affected by the Southern Link proposal have put out a joint statement to their communities.

Auckland Point School, Nelson Intermediate, Victory Primary School and Nelson Tasman Kindergartens have co-signed the impact statement, issued to parents in the lead up to the general election.

The National Party says it will build the Southern Link if re-elected, fast-tracking the infrastructure ahead of the New Zealand Transport Agency's (NZTA) projected timeframe. 

But school leaders in the corridor for the proposed road are sending a clear message to parents and families about the negative impact they think the road could have.

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The statement said three schools, with joint enrolment of 970 students, as well as six early childhood centres with more than 250 children, sit along the proposed corridor.

It warns the new highway could make it difficult for students to walk, cycle or scooter to school, and threatens the Railway Reserve.

It said concerns about road safety could increase the number of parents driving children to school, increasing traffic problems and endangering students around school entrances and carparks.

There are also worries about air pollution and the proximity of the road to school boundaries.

"This will mean increased noise, dust, diesel particles ... Schools/centres will be required to fence, soundproof, double-glaze, install air conditioning, and relocate dozens of buildings, at considerable expense."

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Auckland Point School Principal Sonya Hockley said the intention had been to give families a greater understanding about what the Southern Link could mean for the schools.

"This is a chance for some future focussed thinking before any real decisions are made regarding the proposed Southern Link highway," she said.

"The ability for local communities to thrive and grow, while protecting the special character of each of them, is a key factor and should be the basis for creating effective urban design for Nelson."

But Nelson MP Nick Smith criticised the joint statement as "misrepresenting" issues around air quality.

He said air quality in Nelson South had improved by 98 per cent over the last 15 years and new standards for petrol and diesel meant the amount of harmful pollutants in emissions had been reduced.

"I am absolutely confident that a well-designed Southern Link road can actually improve road safety."

Smith said parents in Victory had shared concerns about the schools' statement as "interfering" in the election and a misuse of "school money".

"Parents have contacted me that are quite angry that the schools are trying to influence and tell them how to vote," he said.

He said the $135m allocated to the project would give "ample funding" to include a cycleway and ensure safe passage for students at Victory schools.

 - Stuff


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