Remarks by Byron Shire Cr Sol Ibrahim as reported in last week declaring the Grab the Rail bypass proposal was ‘too late’ to be considered in Council’s proceedings towards a bypass EIS is typical of Council’s response to this proposal for over six years, it is simply not factual.
The Grab the Rail bypass proposal was first submitted to Council in late 2007 with several representations and activities with Council since then.
Council staff have continually dismissed the proposal on vague and inaccurate statements to councillors and the community, many of which were continuing right through to last week’s meeting.
Inaccurate, misleading and unsubstantiated statements include:
1) the rail corridor is not wide enough to accommodate a bypass together with rail and other transit activities,
2) an act of parliament will be required to allow a bypass route on railway land,
3) John Holland, manager of railway assets, does not favour a bypass within railway land,
4) the state government’s engineers ARUP do not favour the rail corridor bypass alignment,
5) the Byron Street alignment would require acquisition of Crown, Arakwal and National Parks land including koala habitat,
6) costs of land acquisitions from the state could well be multi-millions of dollars, and
7) proper consideration of the Grab the Rail proposal could delay the project for up to decades etc.
Our formal letter and emails seeking qualification and to rectify inaccuracies have either been ignored or refused an answer.
Likewise our submission last week imploring Council to take up the motion to seek clarification via written letter and 30-day response from state government regarding access and terms to utilise the rail corridor as a multi-modal transit way were refused based on all of the above misinformation including the extraordinary statement that the GTR proposal came along to the debate ‘at two seconds to midnight’.
It certainly appears that Council has its own agenda and it intends to undertake the Butler Street bypass despite community concerns, serious impacts and a demonstrably better alternative.
The promise of funding held out by our local minister and the general manager is the major lure pressuring councillors to stick to the current plan or risk failure, never mind the fact that their plan is expensive, inadequate and destructive.
Even more concerning is the fact that the promised funding has yet to eventuate and Council is already spending money.
Butler Street Community Network will continue to inform and urge residents and visitors to support the Grab the Rail campaign for a better bypass solution for Byron Bay.
We are seeking new members, funding and signatures on our petition. Go to www.change.org and search Grab The Rail for our online petition, like us on Facebook/ Grab the rail and email [email protected] for more information.
Paul Jones, president, Butler Street Community Network