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Byron Shire
January 30, 2023

Editorial: Traffic headache

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Traffic headache

Hands up who wants to be a political actor?

Acting mayor Michael Lyon is having a tough time of late, with the re-elected Greens MP Tamara Smith calling for a review of Byron’s traffic woes.

In other words, the local state MP (Greens) is at polar opposites with the acting mayor (Greens) over how to approach Byron town and traffic planning.

So far, Cr Lyon has doubled down with his support of the bypass, which is expected. After all, public trust is created through repetition. And this is a long-running problem where a solution is on the way, which could make some difference. That’s a big tick.

Yet public trust is also built when the process is clear and transparent. The last Council majority (2012–16) was booted out in part because they lacked that.

Perhaps the worst aspect of this plan has been the treatment of the ‘minority’ of Butler Street residents.

If in power, it’s conceivable that a National Party-led Council would be more than happy to steamroll a few residents and wetlands for a 20 per cent traffic gain. It’s just so confusing that this is being led by the Greens in Council. 

What do the public think? The argument that the ‘silent majority’ want the bypass at all cost is not reflective of the recent re-election of Smith.

She increased her majority on March 23 and was the only candidate to run on a platform for a pause on Byron development.

Arguably her platform reflects some of whatever it is the Greens stand for – it’s unclear where Cr Lyon’s allegiances and ambitions will take him.

Activism won briefly on Monday

Activism thankfully still has a strong presence in the region, and the latest win was the rejection of the second West Byron DA.

It was the result of tireless work by unpaid volunteers and thousands of residents who made submissions that highlighted how bad it would be for the town. It was also encouraging to see sense prevail again from the entire planning panel who determined it.    

For any newcomers – West Byron is a massive housing/commercial proposal that is slated opposite the Arts & Industry Estate on Ewingsdale Road.

Against the grain of public opinion are the proponents of West Byron – extremely wealthy ‘Byron’ individuals for one DA and QLD-based corporation Villa World for the other DA.

They had endless time and money to prepare a proposal that could work for all, but… they want to make heaps of money!

Still – the chance to do something truly ecologically sustainable and world leading should always be offered to these developers.

Unfortunately a likely outcome will be a court battle, like the one the ‘West Byron locals’ are now undertaking.

Better still would be a government buy-back, like what happened in Bentley with Metgasco’s CSG licence.

However, it’s unlikely that Villa World will employ the son of a sitting parliamentarian like Metgasco did.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Acting mayor Michael Lyon has read the script and walked into the job with his boots on and lifted the stage up and put it back down again while getting some elbow ribbing from the re-elected Greens MP Tamara Smith. She has been fairly graphic calling for a review of Byron’s woes on Ewingsdale Road and all the snarling traffic.

  2. I urge the Counsellors to please stick to your guns on the Byron Bay bypass issue. This town needs the bypass and it is needed now. The safety issues alone are compelling. Emergency vehicles cannot cross town easily on many days of the year. This is getting worse.

    I live to the south of town and I work to the north of town. I am forced to take the dangerous St Helena Road on many mornings otherwise it takes me 45 minutes to get from Suffolk Park do Ewingsdale. The equally dangerous. It’s ridiculous. I want to go round not through. Many, many residents do too.

    While I sympathise with the few residents affected, I feel the greater public need outweighs their rights in this regard. I have great respect for Ian Cohen, but disagree with him in this instance. I feel the small amount of land to be sacrificed again is the price needed to be paid for this town to function because what’s the point when the town doesn’t function. Ask any worker or commuter or school parent or visitor who is stuck in traffic on Ewingsdale and Banglaow EVERY DAY simply trying to cross town to make a living and they’ll tell you it’s five years overdue. Just do it.

    But really you don’t have to go beyond the compelling safety issues.

    • No question that the traffic situation is far from satisfactory, David, and no one suggests solutions shouldn’t be sought. But do you really think this ‘bypass’ will make any difference to the congestion on Bangalow and Ewingsdale roads? As for the wisdom of putting the hospital and emergency services along Ewingsdale Road – I hope I never need them!

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