Bulldozers have begun cutting a swathe through the Cumbebin Wetlands to make way for the Byron bypass, putting a sword to last ditch efforts being made to save the rainforest area.
With police evicting protesters from the site earlier this week at the behest of Byron Council, the construction project has gone into high gear.
On Wednesday two bulldozers were clearing a large stand of melaleuca trees at the northern end of the bypass near Butler Street reserve.
It comes as local Greens MP Tamara Smith continues to call for a complete environmental survey of the area.
After seeing the Council’s map of the environmental species in and around the footprint of the Bypass, she told The Echo that it ‘clearly shows a critically endangered rainforest’.
But Greens Mayor Simon Richardson said Ms Smith was ‘unaware of some of the details surrounding the bypass…’
‘The original Council mapping of the area as a rainforest was based on a process based largely on desktop photo analysis.’
‘Owing to the requirements within the biobanking process, Council undertook a far more detailed assessment of the area than Council’s usual mapping process.’
The council is offsetting the loss of 1.4 hectares as part of the bypass project with the ‘management and improvement’ of 44 hectares of what it says is the ‘exact type of vegetation’ found within the bypass footprint.
‘Any delay could escalate the project cost, which must be paid from Council and ratepayers’ road budget,’ Cr Richardson said.
‘Any decision to delay or reconsider the project in the final hour owing to political or ideological opposition to the road will also likely threaten our grant funding and timely delivery of the project.’