Byron Shire Council (BSC) have responded to concerns over the use of GHD as the contractors working on Byron Shire Council’s referral to the Commonwealth Department of Environment and Energy (DoEE).
Last week Stop Adani Byron Shire highlighted that the council had passed a resolution in November 2017 that stated they would no longer contract companies that were involved with the Adani Carmichael coal mine.
A Council spokesperson told The Echo that, ‘Council’s view is that the preparation of the referral to the DoEE by consultants GHD was not a new service but an extension of their engagement for the Environmental Assessment of the Bypass Project.
‘The engagement included a range of assessments which also included the consideration of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. Referral to the DoEE was not considered necessary in the first instance, but due to recent representations to DoEE and outcomes, and findings associated with compliance with the project consent conditions, stage 2 of the project has now been referred.’
FOI not free
The Byron Environment Centre (BEC) has been seeking documents from Byron Shire Council on the Byron bypass, their processes and decision making. Last week The Echo reported that the council had informed the BEC that their GIPA (Freedom of Information) request would cost over $20,000. Since then the Council and BEC have worked to narrow the terms of the GIPA, however, it is still thousands of dollars.
Responding to the refined request Council told BEC president John Lazarus that the ‘application satisfies the criteria of being of special interest to the public.’ As a result Council will give BEC a 50 per cent discount on the revised cost of $4,722.50 reducing it to $2,361.25.
‘One would hope that the BSC would be more open and transparent about what is going on with the bypass process, particularly the biodiversity values,’ said former Mayor, Jan Barham.