While the Byron bypass protestors have been evicted from the site following two arrests last Thursday and the construction continues to move ahead there are still local residents who believe Council is failing the community.
Last week Byron Council stated that the issues raised by local Greens MP Tamara Smith regarding the subtropical rainforest at the site were out of date. However this is disputed by Former mayor and Greens MP for Ballina Jan Barham who says that the 2015 mapping council refers to is not the most up to date mapping that council has of the area.
‘My concern with the survey work is the lack of recognition of the subtropical rainforest,’ she told The Echo.
‘I’m still in disbelief that they have failed to recognise the rainforest as identified in their 2017 mapping. Why do they keep going back to mapping that was done in 2015 when the mapping in 2017 was a far more detailed analysis as part of the e-zone review.
Issues have also been raised by local activist Fast Buck$ who sought to view the ‘Construction Environment Management Plan’ (CEMP) that is required by the Land and Environment Court ruling to be held on-site and be available publicly.
Having tried to view the CEMP on site he was told that he would need to contact Council. Then having been told by Council he could view it the next day at their offices he was refused the opportunity to read the document.
Ms Barham agrees saying that ‘The lack of detail and information in the DA and EIS is one of the reasons that the Land and Environment Court placed the significant consent condition and the additional 10 management plans that are required to proceed with the bypass,’ she said.
‘They should be publicly available unless there is good reason not to be. Council is playing two roles as both the proponent and the consent authority. This requires them to be open and transparent. This is what we did when we were developing the Byron sewerage works at Byron. We had all documents available and up on websites so the public could access them. That is what this council should be doing as part of the process with the Byron bypass.’
Mayor Simon Richardson confirmed just prior to going to print that the CEMP is now available to the public at councils head office in Mullumbimby.
Council is currently in discussion with the Commonwealth Department of Environment and Energy following public concerns raised with the department.
‘My understanding is that the federal government’s department of Environment and Energy has been in contact with council about their failure to refer the bypass construction to them in connection to the EPBC,’ said Ms Barham.
‘The council are the proponent and they didn’t voluntarily refer the plans to the department of energy and environment which they are required to do because there is a nationally endangered species being impacted. In fact council said that it was unlikely that there would be any of the endangered Mitchell’s Rainforest Snails to be there when in fact the snail has been found at the site.