Former Greens mayor and NSW MLC Jan Barham is keeping the pressure up on staff to explain why details of the Byron bypass are lacking and flawed, given the first tender for the project has been appointed.
Last week, more information was uploaded to Council’s website, including biobanking agreements and the environmental impact statement (EIS).
Yet while Council’s online project history contains a timeline, it glosses over and ignores the concerns and claims from residents who will be most affected.
Barham told Echonetdaily, ‘Council’s report to the state government to gain approval under the biobanking scheme appears to have overlooked the likely impacts on at least six species and ignored the presence of another three’.
‘This means that the calculation for the provision of “credits” is deficient, which renders the approval under biobanking unacceptable.
‘Representations will be made to the NSW Environment minister to advise that the approval given by OEH may have been flawed’.
Meanwhile local ecologist David Milledge told Echonetdaily, ‘The assessments undertaken on behalf of Council to make the biobanking and additional area development applications to the government appear to be flawed in that a number of relevant threatened fauna species have not been adequately considered.
‘Further, the surveys that underpin the assessments to determine if those species are present are up to 15 years old, and do not consider changes to the environment and statutory matters that have occurred in the interim.
‘The impact of fragmentation of the SEPP 14 (coastal wetlands) area by the works has also been underestimated and the impact of construction and filling of the land will have significant direct and indirect impacts including on flooding, drainage, and water quality that will affect the viability of the threatened species that rely on the unique wetland ecosystem’.
Q&A with staff
Question: Why have many key documents not been publicly available on the website?
Answer: ‘We are happy to provide documentation on the website and we do our best to supply what we think is going to be the most helpful and useful information. If we are contacted to supply further information on the website on a particular project, then we are happy to assist with this’.
Question: Has a dispute resolutions document been created for the bypass project, considering the residents who will be affected are in total opposition?
Answer: ‘Dispute resolution is used in contractual matters. Jan Barham raised dispute resolution in the context of the contract between Council and the noise consultant. [There is also a] stakeholder consultation group, as required by condition 27 of the court consent’.
Question: It’s unclear why Council staff recommended accepting a tender given the project has many yet-to-be addressed issues and crucial components have not provided to the community. Is there a reason for this?
Answer: ‘The tender related to further noise assessment of the individual dwellings. All of the environmental issues with respect to threatened species have been addressed by the biobanking statement. These issues have been considered by the NSW Land and Environment Court and were resolved to the satisfaction of the court’.
Question: Did OEH make a mistake with the ‘red flag’ areas – has this been assessed/and or amended? Is this area a red flag area?
Answer: ‘There was no mistake made by Council or the OEH with respect to the red flag area’.
‘The OEH assessment and reasons for approval of the biobanking statement inclusive of the red flag area are contained in the BioBanking Biodiversity Banking and Offsets Scheme document.