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Byron Shire
February 26, 2021

Local Greens divided over Byron bypass

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Hans Lovejoy

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.  

Byron acting mayor Cr Michael Lyon (Greens).

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.

Wrong path 

‘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’.


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11 COMMENTS

  1. OMG Tamara, you cannot be serious? Did you come down in the last shower? In the 15 years I have lived here in Byron, the “bypass” has been a hot topic the entire time. There have been so many “forums” and “working groups” and “options analyses” that there simply cannot be anything else to discuss. Sooner or later, in life, we just have to learn to accept the “least bad option”. Nobody is suggesting the current bypass project is prefect, but it is the best of the many options, and it is certain. It is funded. It is approved. And for Heaven’s sake, stop living in Ballina, Tamara – try living in Byron for a year, stuck in that terrible Ewingsdale Road traffic every day, and you’ll soon agree with your colleagues in Council.

  2. Really!?
    It seems like we are going for a world’s record for stupidity. In fact, more consultation at this stage is so ridiculous that it is almost too amusing to give up!
    No amount of talking or consultation is going to make everyone happy.
    Our single one lane road through throngs of tourists, shoppers, pedestrians, bikes, baby strollers, surfers etc.is beyond a joke.
    The path of least resistance is there. Don’t leave us stranded in peak hour gridlock any longer.
    Suck it up and build it.
    or
    I only moved to Byron last year and nobody consulted with me. Let’s start the whole process over. Damn the last 30 years of discussion and consultation. 🙂

  3. Good on you Tamara Smith for standing up for the community and the environment!
    The fake green Byron Shire Council is obviously on a developer’s leash.
    The Butler Street Reserve looks like the graveyard of the council’s green credentials.
    Three story buildings planned for the Recreational Reserve? Parking lot replacing the Reserve without a DA?
    Masterplanned takeover of Crown Land? Wetland buffer zone degraded? The residents and market stallholders disregarded and intimidated?
    Butler Street precinct turned into a shopping mall?
    In the meantime, deaf ears to the community needs and aspirations. Precious open grassy space replaced with a gravel desert, human feces and pompous arrogance.
    I want my green vote for the council back!

  4. A bypass that used the land the rail lines occupy, would preserve a nice relatively quiet residential street. the markets and the wetlands that face destruction.

    A one way 2 lane traffic system that ran clockwise from the 1st roundabout and down Lawson St, turned right down Fletcher St, right again into Marvel St, and right again down Jonson St and back to the 1st roundabout with left lane exits, would eliminate all the giving way at roundabouts and junctions and allow more efficient traffic flow through the CBD.
    The aesthetically pleasing roundabouts would unfortunately have to go and possibly there would also need to be a reversal of direction with the one way traffic system up Jonson street to the Beach Hotel and past the surf club and back down to the Fletcher St roundabout which would give better access from both the Suffolk Park and Ewingsdale Road directions with the suggested 2 lane system in place.

    Also some parking bays would need to be re marked with orientation to fit in with the one way system but I believe a much quicker transit of the CBD would be possible and all at a lower cost than the Bypass

  5. The Butler st residents – all 10 of them – have done a masterful job of delaying the bypass for decades. Is it already 4 decades?
    Sadly it is time to concede. Byron NEEDS the bypass. There are no alternatives.

  6. Byron Bay already has a major bypass – it’s called the Pacific Highway. The inescapable fact is that the traffic congestion is caused by the number of people wanting to visit. The prevailing wisdom is that the bypass will reduce congestion by at most 20%. An awful lot of damage to Butler St residential amenity and our wetlands for such a paltry gain. What happens when Johnson St becomes a pedestrian mall? Net gain in congestion reduction?

    Requests for Tamara to drive on Ewingsdale Road are to what purpose? The bypass will make no difference to traffic there. Tamara gained a concession from the state government to examine the possibility of the rail corridor but that met a Council brick wall way back when there was still time to avoid the delays now bemoaned.

    The rail corridor would allow the positioning of the bypass entry further south and more efficient access from Suffolk Park and Broken Head. It would also be a better alternative for the new bike track from Suffolk.

  7. This bypass is plainly stupid. The traffic jam begins at Ewingsdale not at the bypass.
    And can somebody explain to me given the small diameter of the roundabout at the beginning of the Butler Street how traffic coming from town and wanting to go out along Ewingsdale Road, will not constantly interrupt the 20% of inbound traffic flow wanting to enter Butler Street at the roundabout.
    Roundabouts are a great success in Europe because they realise that the diameter of the roundabout has to be sufficiently large for it to soak up multiple lanes of traffic on the same roundabout peeling on and peeling off.
    The Butler Street roundabout is so tiny that it is guaranteed to actually result in more traffic jams not less.

    • When will people wake up to the fact that wasting $24m on a useless road that we know will increase traffic congestion and carbon emissions but getting the trains running will get the traffic off the roads?

      With a train station in the center of town there’s no need for visitors to travel to Byron by road. There can be incentives put in place-expensive paid parking-for people who insist on driving into town.

      The added bonus would be a more pleasant and safer town for pedestrians and cyclists.

  8. Council has voted to turn Butler St into the Masterplan proposed shopping street by Adopting the Masterplan proposed extension of the Town Centre CBD onto this street and other town cente, presently residential, peripheral areas. A bypass is for an uninterrupted traffic flow around a town centre. Butler St will be as free flowing as Jonson Street. The Masterplan has used the previous Byron concept of a Butler St Bypass to corrupt the idea for a road to service this new Masterplan development area. Whatever minor merit the previous bypass concept has, it has been corrupted to service a new development area of shops, cafes, tourist accom etc.

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