The construction of the Byron Bypass could recommence within days after the Federal Environment Department gave the project a conditional green light last week.
Work on the second stage of the bypass was halted in October last year following concerns that the project would have a significant negative impact on a number of endangered species, including the Mitchells Rainforest Snail, due to wetland clearing.
In response to very loud public outcry over this impact, Byron Council referred the project to the Environment Department for consideration under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
On January 17 the Department found that the project was not a prohibited action under the act, provided it met specific conditions.
This paves the way for the project to recommence, most likely to completion.
‘Due to the small scale of clearing and the mitigation measures proposed, significant impacts to the ecological community and species are considered unlikely,’ a Departmental officer said in a letter to locals who had made submissions in relation to the referral.
Most of the conditions set out by the Department were already part of council’s plans for the project.
This includes the construction of a dedicated fauna underpass at the southern end of the bypass, and the installation of fauna exclusion fencing around the edges of the project.
The Council must also undertake the project without the use of herbicides, and undertake all land clearing in accordance with the Mitchell’s Rainforest Snail Habitat Clearing Protocols it obtained in October.
The $24m Bypass will run south from the Shirley Street roundabout at the entrance to the town centre and run parallel to the railway line until it joins Jonson Street at the southern edge of town.