Alan Dickens, Brunswick Heads

The front page article on the Byron bypass last week and the alleged failure of Byron Shire Council (BSC) to consider and present the environmental impacts of the bypass would come as no surprise to anyone who has worked for BSC – particularly in Water and Recycling (W&R).

As a former, long-term employee in W&R, there was a complete about-face by W&R on environmental concerns from 2002 onward. To any staffer who cared, this was made extremely obvious by what happened to process monitoring procedures.

In 2006 a Council owned laboratory in the Byron Industrial estate was closed. You would think someone must have asked what effect would this have on the ability of BSC to assess, and process monitor, sewerage treatment plants, rivers, estuaries, and on the mitigation of acid sulphate soil levels as a result of the substantial numbers of melaleucas planted in the West Byron wetlands etc.

Alas, no one even noticed. This laboratory had also been NATA (National Authority of Testing Authorisation) registered, which should have made it an asset to BSC.

The BSC mayor is fond of saying he only takes the advice of experts. Unfortunately, the mayor did not practise what he preaches.

When a wetlands expert, Mr David Pont, was paid to come to a Water, Waste & Sewer Advisory Committee Meeting in 2019 he stated that the West Byron STP wetlands, which he was involved in designing, were in a state of total neglect. Mr Pont also stated that BSC needed to employ some people who actually knew how to maintain environmental infrastructure. Mr Pont’s comments were neither minuted nor responded to at the meeting.

Byron Shire, at present, has four unmanned sewerage treatment works, this is a sign of complete apathy by W&R. I doubt very much if even one councillor is aware of this.

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