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Byron Shire
December 4, 2021

MP calls for urgent review of bypass process

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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.

The approved Byron Bay bypass, aligned with Butler Street. Source Byron Shire Council

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’. 

Impact underestimated

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’.


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7 COMMENTS

  1. The Statue (Smith) speaks, lets all hope no one is listening – maybe they could have used all that fill they excavated from the new woolies site

  2. It’s not a bypass it’s a detour. All the time and money spent so far and with half a glance you can see it won’t fix the problem

  3. I am looking forward to the completion of the bypass after 4 decades and it will make a marked difference for anyone in south Byron or Suffolk wanting to get to Ewingsdale Rd. Not sure why the Echo continues to promote the interests of such a small number of residents and publish letters only from opponents of the bypass – none of whom live in Byron itself!

  4. Has there been any costings by Council of an overpass flyover road going along Butler Street, better still to go on the disused railway line.

    The plan for the bus terminal could move north towards the motel/Police station making way for an overpass to start where it is now proposed.

    Then we can have less impact on the Butler Street residents and the wetland stay can be protected. An overpass has less impact by being on pillars even if it does have to encroach into part of the wetland along the rail line.

  5. If a bypass has to be built and I hope not in it’s current configuration, why can’t the bypass road turn left by the old water tower and right at the rail lines and run on the railway land to the Mitre 10 junction. It would also cost a lot less in dollars as well as environmental damage.

    Why is it that obvious solutions to Byron’s problems are ignored or never even considered ? If the railway land can be made into a car park then why not a road ……………. answers please from the Council

    Or is it that the land adjacent to the water tower, is in fact put aside for the transit centre courtesy of the Byron master plan. The very same masterminds with their idealistic views who are busy re-designing the perfectly okay Railway park and who think it a good idea to pedestrian-ise Jonson Street but haven’t thought about the traffic nightmare that would result.
    Does anyone remember the near total grid lock that ensued when Lawson Street was closed to traffic due to the Fire at the LaLa Land nightclub, and they want to pedestrian-ise Jonson Street !

  6. This town needed a bypass five years ago. Hundreds of residents criss-cross the CBD daily for commuting and work. In Summer this trip is a nightmare all day. I agree that lost bushland is a very high price. But this town is grid-locked and doesn’t work with ALL traffic going around one small round-about. Ask the residents who need to cross town every day – they’ll tell you. BUILD IT.

    Where does Justine Elliot live? Not in Byron.

    This issue reminds me of the Mullum Woolies issue.. shock, horror don’t build it..then… it’s great.

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