One of the most significant road infrastructure projects in Sydney has moved closer to fruition, with the state government applying to have the project considered a ‘significant’ project and releasing a report outlining key environmental considerations relating to the development.

Last week, the New South Wales Government submitted a Significant State Infrastructure application report to the Department of Planning and Infrastructure with regard to an unsolicited proposal from a private consortium to build the multi-billion dollar F3-M2 Link in the Sydney’s northern suburbs.

The report outlines a number of issues to be considered during the environmental application process, including traffic; noise and vibration; air quality; biodiversity; urban design, landscape and character; soil and geology; and risks associated with surface water and flooding.

“This is one of the largest infrastructure projects in NSW and significant effort is being put into ensuring impacts are minimised, should the project proceed,” State Road and Ports Minister Duncan Gay said.

Should the application for state significant infrastructure be accepted, the project will go through a streamlined assessment process conducted by the Department instead of local councils.

Envisioned as far back as 2002, the new project would create a tolled motorway linking the F3 Freeway at Wahroonga to the Hills M2 Motorway at the Pennant Hills Road interchange in the northern suburb of Carlingford via tunnels beneath Pennant Hills Road and interchanges connecting the new road with the F3 Freeway, the Hills M2 Motorway, Pennant Hills Road and the Pacific Highway at the northern and southern ends of the project.

Should it go ahead, the government says the project would improve road safety, reduce congestion and slash travel times along Pennant Hills Road by allowing motorists to avoid 22 sets of traffic lights.

Last year, a private consortium involving Transurban and the Westlink M7 shareholders approached the government with an unsolicited proposal to design, build, operate and maintain the roadway.

Last month, and the government invited a shortlist of three consortia to bid for the design and construction of the project, with bids up to a maximum of $2.65 billion allowed.

The consortia include a joint venture between Leighton subsidiaries Thiess and John Holland, a joint venture between Lend Lease and French company Boygues Construction and the Global Link joint venture consisting of a local subsidiary of Italian construction firm Ghella and the Australian arm of Spanish energy and infrastructure giant Acciona.

It is expected an Environmental Impact Statement will be ready by early 2014 after final tenders are received by the end of November this year.