Policy divisions between the re-elected Greens Ballina MP and Greens councillors have again been highlighted with re-elected Tamara Smith MP calling for a public forum to invite expert speakers to explore what other options are available instead of the current Byron Butler Street bypass project.
The bypass, mainly funded by the state government, would widen the street and continue south through wetlands and emerge between Mitre 10 and Byron Music. It is expected to alleviate traffic by 20 per cent and has seen fierce opposition from affected residents. Market stallholders have also been affected, and are yet to be offered a satisfactory temporary market location.
Smith was the only NSW candidate who ran on a platform to pause the bypass and proposed transport hub.
Yet acting Greens mayor Michael Lyon supports the bypass, despite questionable process from Council staff that led to the decision. Two former Greens councillors also support MP Smith’s call for a pause.
Cr Lyon told The Echo he will ‘seek guidance’ but ‘argue against taking up Tamara’s offer’ of a public forum at the Greens’ monthly meeting Tuesday (last night).
‘I have reviewed the decision and the level of consultation and am satisfied with both. I believe that this is a good project for Byron and having reviewed all of the information available, I am more firmly convinced that the right decision has been made’.
Cr Lyon added, ‘I would be happy to write an article for a subsequent edition that explains this in detail’.
At odds with policy
Yet much of the bypass appears at odds with Greens policy, which includes transparency and safeguarding ecological credentials.
Ms Smith said, ‘During the last four years, I regularly heard community concerns regarding the Byron Bay bypass and more recently issues with the state government’s proposal for the Butler Street transport terminal’.
Not fully informed
She was concerned that Council, ‘has not kept the community fully informed about the bypass approval conditions and obligations in relation to their entering into a biobanking statement to offset the ecological damage from the construction of the bypass’.
‘The Greens are opposed to biobanking and in this situation it appears that the destruction of a wetland area is offset against an area of land that is already protected. This situation is enabled by the NSW government’s legislation that fundamentally disregards key ecological protection.
‘It is clear from the JRPP and court-approved conditions of consent that there are important matters that require clarification by Council prior to proceeding with the approval of contractors to undertake the works.
‘However, Council has already undertaken the tender exhibition process and after the state government made funds available for the construction, it wasted no time in getting the process started.
‘It’s a difficult situation to be in opposition to Byron Shire Council… but I believe Council is going down the wrong path with the bypass’.
Smith added that in other parts of the world where high visitor numbers results in congested traffic, visitor access is restricted.
‘There are better sustainable options for Byron Bay’.