An urgent review of the environmental approvals by the NSW planning department with the Byron Bypass project has been requested in parliament by recently re-elected Greens NSW MP Tamara Smith.
As one of her first acts since re-election, Smith called on the minister for planning Rob Stokes (Liberal) last Wednesday to consider the failure to recognise ‘at least 11 threatened fauna species’ which inhabit the area earmarked for destruction.
Massive fill required
The project is slated to widen and extend Butler Street through wetlands and connect with the southern end of Jonson Street.
It is expected to alleviate traffic by about 20 per cent in the short term.
Staff have confirmed that approximately 21,000m3 of imported fill will be required for the bypass project.
A statement from staff reads, ‘This was required to raise the ground height in order to satisfy design standards relating to road flooding and is a common requirement for new roads. The design was approved by the NSW Land and Environment Court’.
Yet MP Smith also notes with the minister the ‘serious concerns raised with the member for Ballina by residents and environmentalists alleging errors and emissions in the Byron Shire Council biodiversity assessment report, dated September 2015, including the failure to recognise at least 11 threatened fauna species that may be adversely affected and a critically endangered ecological community’.
The Echo asked councillor and federal Greens candidate Michael Lyon for comment, but he declined.
But Cr Lyon did reply, however, to the The Echo’s question regarding his environmental achievements in Council (see page 5).
Throughout this term in Council, the Greens have supported the project under the general manager’s delegated powers, despite environmental concerns and claims of poor process.
Local ecologist David Milledge supplied his full assessment of Council’s biobanking agreement and told The Echo, ‘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’.
He says, ‘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’.
The Echo asked staff to reply to the claims. They said, ‘The biodiversity assessment was completed by an accredited, independent expert/consultant and was approved by the NSW government’s Office of Environment and Heritage’.