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Byron Shire
March 2, 2021

Council’s environmental credentials questioned

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The question around the Greens councillor majority’s commitment to environmental protection and good governance has again been highlighted by state Greens MP Tamara Smith, who is calling on councillors to pause the beleaguered Byron bypass project.

The Greens council majority have delegated the general manager (GM) to manage almost every aspect of the project, amid accusations of poor process.

In reply, mayor Simon Richardson told The Echo he is acting ‘within the rules forced on us’, yet says he will table a mayoral minute at this Thursday’s Council meeting ‘to find out possible ways and the costs to enhance the local wetland far and beyond what is required’.

Tamara Smith MP told The Echo, ‘It is the eleventh hour for the protection of biodiversity and riparian wetlands about to face the chop to make way for the Butler Street bypass’.

‘I am imploring all of the Byron Shire councillors – not least of which the four Greens councillors – to pause the development this week and read the ecological report by David Milledge and consider the next right thing to do.’

She said, ‘The Greens both at NSW state level and at federal level fundamentally oppose biodiversity banking. It is an utterly flawed planning principle that says if you destroy an endangered species in one place you can offset it in another place by supporting the habitat of a different species’.

Smith said, ‘The wording in our state policy says we “oppose market-based processes and trading mechanisms such as biodiversity banking and offsets that trade off high-conservation areas for development”.’

‘It is hard for me to understand why our Greens councillors are pursuing this path so vehemently when the Greens oppose biobanking so emphatically.

‘What is even harder to understand, and impossible to forgive, are the mistakes and omissions in the actual biodiversity banking process that Council staff, in a Greens-dominated Council, have made.

‘I and other environmentalists have been forced to commission David Milledge from our own pockets to review and report on the biobanking processes and Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) completed by Council, in a last-bid attempt to force proper process’.

She added, ‘I have written to both the minister for Planning and the minister for the Environment to review Council’s processes for the bypass, because of the raft of concerns including mistakes, omissions, and flaws in the process identified by David Milledge. We should not have had to do any of these things.’

Mayor replies

Mayor Simon Richardson told The Echo, ‘I have read the report by David Milledge, as have other councillors and pertinent staff members’.

‘Though David is not an accredited assessor, and there appear to be some gaps in a detailed understanding of the process within his report, I have upmost respect for him and his knowledge.

‘Staff have identified many gaps, such as the claim that the fauna studies undertaken were over 15 years old, and thus outdated, noting that thorough assessments and field surveys were conducted less than five years ago.

‘However, rather than dissect all the major points from David’s report, I invite him and anyone else interested in learning more to let me know and I’ll organise a sit down with the accredited assessor for the project.

‘I do wholeheartedly agree with Tamara’s disapproval of the biobanking process.

‘Even more worrying, if the bypass assessment was to be done now, the protections required have now lessened and the biobanking regime is even weaker.

‘In her press release, Tamara outlines her anger that we are “pursuing” the biobanking regime “vehemently”.

‘We are simply playing on the field we’re given and within the rules forced on us, rather than standing on the sidelines in the terraces and yelling at the umpire.

‘By playing the game by the biobanking rules given to us, we will of course seek to do as well as we can and win. I am confident that because we will vehemently pursue outcomes far above what is required and set by the rules we will have led our community well.

‘Though the road will actually affect only 0.36 per cent of the wetland area, it is vital we do far more to alleviate the impact to that what is required within the biobanking regime. Currently, the Byron Bay Bypass is set to impact 1.56ha of vegetation and the approved biobanking agreements protect and improve 44.5ha of land.

‘However, this is Byron and we will do way better than that. I have a mayoral minute scheduled to be considered at Thursday’s Council meeting to find out possible ways and the costs to enhance the local wetland far and beyond what is required, and to do so’.

‘Dealing with the changes that face us daily in the traffic snarls in and out of Byron is not easy, and the changes occurring won’t just go away, no matter how much some of us focus on resisting change.

‘It will take many different responses to manage it, including re-activating the rail corridor, re-establishing  park and ride and advocating for better public transport etc.

‘It also includes creating an alternate road to help the thousand or more locals avoid the centre traffic snarls in the centre of town every day.

‘Our rail corridor feasibility report is soon to arrive and the vehement pursuit that Greens and other Councillors have to establish shuttle services linking all our towns is beginning to look very promising.

‘We are also keen to reinstate the park and ride initiated by Greens Councillors and others, though it would require car parking for 3,000 to 5,000 cars and currently the Cavanbah Centre could hold less than 1,000.

‘Also, by creating an alternate route through town, we can begin the work to needed to create possible shared or pedestrian zones in parts of town to let put people come first and in town and cars second and around town.

‘Traffic in and out of Byron Bay is not an easy fix. There is certainly no one answer either.

‘Though this alternate route will benefit at least 1,000 locals every day in cars, I and other councillors –Greens and non-Greens – will not be satisfied until we have also established a rail shuttle, expanded our share car program, completed the Suffolk to Byron Bike path.

‘Though it doesn’t create solutions, resisting change is valid and has its place to ensure we minimise damage and avoid pitfalls, which is why it is great some people are speaking out.

‘This vocal concern by some makes us more galvanised to do far more than is required.

‘Alongside resisting change, we also have to create solutions through actions that help manage change and through creating the alternate route around the centre of town and other initiatives, this is what we are also focused on doing’.


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4 COMMENTS

  1. THE GREENS ENED TO START FOCUSING MORe VIGOUROUSLY AND SERIOULSY ON T HE LEVEL OF UNEMPLOYED AND INCREASINGLY HOMELESS PEOPLE IN BYRON SHIRE, PARTICULARLY THOSE STUCK ON CENTRELINK PAYMENTS AND LIVING IN DESPERRATE SILENT POVERTY. The rent levels in this shire are becoming unaffordable for most people and many are having to leave. That means the Greens voter base will decrease as most unemployed people here vote for them, and as reflected in theloss of the federal election, the current canddiate leaves a lot ot be desired. Focusing simply on the enviroenment and climate chnage does not resonate with people anymore . Many are simply trying to survive in an economy which counts them as ” collateral damage.” They are the forgotten people, the flotsam and jetsam of a society which believes only in greed and money and worker exploitation. The Greens had a great chance to harvest the disenfranchised and the workers who have been shunted ot the bototm of the pile by successive ALP and LNP governeents but lost it terribly and wasted an entire election on the issues everyone knows they love but have very little meaning to those people who are struggling to put food on their table and keep a roof over their heads. Byron Shire epitomises this malaise completely. It rtuly is a microcoms of everything wrong in this nation and the Greens seem unable to grasp that fact and use it to advance thermsleves politically among the miaistream. Petty squabbling, name calling and the marginalisation of the working class vote will see them become poltically irrelvant soon no matter how many city votes they get, In the regions they will always struggle because this is where real poverty exists..

  2. I love a timid country
    A land of greed and fear
    Where the liars get richer
    And the bogans swill their beer
    Where a small minded hatred
    Engulfs our minds and souls
    And timidity reigns
    over a people once brace and bold

    I love a timid country
    Where the animals go extinct
    Where smoke form consent burning
    Makes the air putrid with its stink
    Where rivers dry up rapidly
    And the atmosphere is hot and dry
    I love a timid country
    Which is slowly being left to die.

  3. I am NOT a Greens supporter. I love my environment and care for it tenderly, I have homes for my native bees, birds, i plant indigenous plants to support my wildlife. I do not buy packaged food, I reuse everything that I can, so I sound Green, but I am not.

    I want support for businesses of every size, without business there are no jobs, growth, opportunity or future for our young or our selves.

    When disaster happens I am yet to see a single Green MP show their face with offer of support and help, they cannot be see for the dust rising from their heels as they head in the opposite direction.

    Greens believe that if I do well for myself I should give my hard earned wealth to those who have not bothered to do the same as me. When I die my estate will go first and foremostly to the government and my family will get little if anything at all, a death tax or inheritance tax they call it.

    This is so unfair as I have paid tax on everything I have and own, why should my family be taxed again for things that have already been taxed. Why at a much higher rate than the GST, I was told by a Green it would be 45% of the value of my estate plus administration costs.

    All this is to support those who do not wish to get off their bums and do something for themselves.

    I am not a Socialist, having read in detail the Green Ideology, Together Party, Socialist Party, and many other including Labor’s I am totally horrified that all of these want those of us who actually get out there and work extremely hard, take all the risks to just hand over what we make to those who sit back and do nothing but complain.

    How many jobs has the predominantly Green council lost because of their political beliefs. Local Councils should be and urgently need to be non political party motivated.

    What has Tamara Smith actually done for the people she is meant to represent? Has she voted for things of value for them? NO.

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