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November 30, 2021

Byron’s new road: the good and not so

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After more than 30 years of talk, debate, disagreements, tears and political gridlock, Byron Bay has a new road to divert traffic from the CBD to the southern end of town.

The new $24m road runs down Butler Street, and turns left, emerging where Mitre 10 and Byron Music are located, at the end of Jonson Street.

To the victors go the spoils… Upper House MP Ben Franklin, and Byron Mayor Simon Richardson tuck into a bit of bypass cake at Saturday’s opening. Image: Jeff ‘let me eat cake’ Dawson

Greens Mayor, Simon Richardson, joined Nationals MLC, Ben Franklin, on Saturday, ‘in a 1977 Bay Kombi van, to do an official first lap of the new road’.

Yet elected Greens MP for the region, Tamara Smith, told The Echo she declined an invitation to attend. 

She said, ‘As usual in politics, anyone that was championing for better protections for the environment or for the protection of the Butler Street heritage neighbourhood was anti-bypass. Inversely, anyone who wanted the road was portrayed as anti-environment and indifferent to the plight of residents. Until we get beyond these binaries, we will keep getting win/lose scenarios’.

Biobanking ‘a joke’

Ms Smith said the ‘environment definitely lost out with the bypass’ and the project’s environmental offsets, or biobanking agreements, ‘are a joke’.

Biobanking allows like-for-like fauna and flora to be removed and relocated elsewhere to make way for development. It’s a practice that is unsupported by environmental scientists and the NSW Greens. 

She said, ‘Can a unique human be offset? Of course not! Then why do we think endangered species can simply be replaced by something else, somewhere else? 

‘We know that environmentally sensitive wetlands and more than 100 critically endangered Mitchell’s rainforest snails, as well as a peaceful heritage neighbourhood were all sacrificed for a new road and bypass. Was it worth it?’

‘So often, we look at individual instances of the destruction of biodiversity and say oh well, it’s only 100 snails. But who watches for the total impacts of the death from a thousand cuts? The planet does, and the consequences for humans are dire, as we know, let alone for the thousands of species on track for extinction’.

Meanwhile, the mayor spruiked Council’s largest ever infrastructure project as more than just a new road. 

He said in a press release there are ‘three new roundabouts and almost two kilometres of new shared path and footpath’. 

Largest ever project

The project has been mired in cost blowouts, delays and poor governance from the start, with environmental issues and strong resident opposition, including court cases. 

Council staff admit the traffic is expected to be alleviated by around 20 per cent for the short term.  

Despite the lack of scientific support, Mr Franklin and Cr Richardson claimed positive environmental outcomes from biobanking agreements.

Mr Franklin said, ‘While 1.5 hectares of vegetation was impacted to construct stage two of the project, an additional 44.5 hectares of similar vegetation is now protected in perpetuity as a result of two approved biobanking agreements at Lilli Pilli and Wallum Place’. 

Cr Richardson added Council had ‘invested $81,700 towards the regeneration of 17.5 hectares of potential Mitchell’s rainforest snail habitat at Sunrise Boulevard Bushland, Butler Street Reserve and Midgen Swamp Reserve in Suffolk Park’.

Additional environmental outcomes, according to Council, were ‘10,068 new shrubs and trees planted, 900 metres of new fauna protection fencing, installation of a fauna underpass and 840 metres of bioswales to filter pollutants from stormwater runoff into the wetlands’.

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  1. yeah another cultural smack in the face for the indigenous peoples and the environment. Simon Richardson is a sell out and Ben what’s his name re minds me of the kid at school who used to suck up to the teacher to get better grades. So sick of these political parasites sucking up to the “tourism industry”and associated hangers on. But Byron was pretty much buggered back in the 1990s. And your paper, being more of a a realtor advertising rag certainly hasn’t helped.
    Byron Pay where the rich scum rises in the morning to look out over their million dollar views while tourism exploits the workforce with low wages, expensive rentals and the pensioners and unemployed are told to move on. Byron bay epitomises the cancer of neoliberalism while making pretense at being a progressive place. Pfft.

  2. What is mind-blowing about this bypass design, is the incorporation of a friggin roundabout at the Mitre-10 end.
    The designers obviously think, or even “know”, that a Phase Two is going to have the bypass extend south, through arguably Byron’s greatest swamp and vegetation assets; between Mitre-10 and the Roadhouse.
    This section of the corridor is simply magnificent, with a multitude of scenic micro-vistas, awaiting public access for walking , cycling and picnic stops along the way.
    Just mind-blowing.
    Go and have a look at this huge potential.
    It’s beautiful and quiet.
    But if the bypass designers get their cancerous way, it’ll be crucified.
    One of Byron’s hidden treasures, gone before it’s even discovered..

  3. Biobanking – its the first time ive heard that one! How ludicrous. When will Corporations realise profit does not come before integrity. And when will the minions who do their work say, no more, will i agree to this.

  4. Here endith the lesson.
    If future development (next 100 years) is to avoid the history of this project, we need professional input into urban planning, emission free public transport and logistics.
    Why not face the fact that high rise is invevitable and a modern satellite town between Tyagarah and the resort north of Byron Bay is achievable.
    Cobbling bits on the existing town site has proven to be costly, inefficient and politically difficult.
    What has been tastefully and quietly achieved at “Habitat”, can be replicated on a larger scale in such a location.
    Developers need to be brought to heel to subsidise infrastructure and public transport to assist with costs.
    Continuing the way we currently do business is wrong.
    Let’s re-evaluate what we have and grab the great opportunity to move forward in a positive way.
    Give it some thought.

  5. 3 new roundabouts, one of them for a simple 90′ turn. Who are they kidding? Our ‘oh so green’ council obviously has more roads into the wetland planned from there. Simon certainly seems to have found a new friend.

  6. Simon Richardson I would be more concerned over the appalling state of ALL roads in & around Bryon.
    Never have I seen such poorly maintained roads, pothole after pothole
    Sort out what you already have first!

  7. Yes a VERY EXPENSIVE disaster!

    There’s perfectly good train line next to this road which could be repaired for a fraction of the cost of this disaster and take thousands/ millions of vehicles off our roads. But politicians of all persuasions have want it ripped up and replaced with a bike track that will cost more. Politicians expressing concerns about the environmental damage of this very expensive road sound very hollow.

    Perhaps they could tell us what the more sustainable, cost effective alternative is?

    In the meantime get used to many more huge, expensive roads destroying the environment , wildlife and quality of life.

  8. Ben Franklin can’t win an election but still acts like the local member. Must have friends in the right places.

    P.S. Does anyone else find the line of Kombis there for the photo op as cringeworthy as I do?

  9. Always thought tar over existing train line would be best option ,exits where needed into town and a good solid base to build on without putting a dozer through the swamp , lets be honest the state GVT killed the local line many years back removed the big bridges before they fell down through lack of ongoing support work , they just gave up on rail , that land is still there and should be used for all not sold off to development .


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