5 April 2019
Defer the Byron Bay bypass
Member for Ballina Tamara Smith MP wants Byron Shire Council to defer their decision to construct the Byron Bay bypass and instead be part of a process to review options to address traffic congestion in the town.
“During the last four years I regularly heard community concerns regarding the Byron Bay bypass and more recently issues with the State government’s proposal for the Butler Street Transport Terminal,” said Ms Smith.
“There have also been ongoing concerns about the high impact of tourism, including congestion that disrupts the lives of residents. I have not been convinced that the construction of the Byron bypass will alleviate these concerns.
“The bypass proposal may have been on the books for over twenty years but that doesn’t make it right. I believe it’s time for Byron Shire Council to reconsider whether in 2019 this is the most appropriate, sustainable way to move forward. The bypass will be a massive scar on the town of Byron Bay, will destroy a significant area of wetland and will change the character of the town forever.
“I’m also concerned that the Council has not kept the community fully informed about the bypass approval conditions and obligations in relation to them entering into a Bio Banking Statement to offset the ecological damage from the construction of the bypass.
“The Greens are opposed to bio banking and in this situation it appears that the destruction of a wetland area is offset against an area of land that is already protected. This situation is enabled by the NSW government’s legislation that fundamentally disregards key ecological protection.
“It is clear from the JRPP and court-approved conditions of consent that there are important matters that require clarification by Council prior to proceeding with the approval of contractors to undertake the works. However, Council has already undertaken the tender exhibition process and after the State government made funds available for the construction, it wasted no time in getting the process started.
"It’s a difficult situation to be in opposition to Byron Shire Council but I feel it’s necessary to advise the community that I believe Council is going down the wrong path with the bypass.
“I implore Council to take the time to review what options are available to deal with the current congestion problems in Byron Bay. I would be willing to sponsor a forum and invite expert speakers to inform us of what other options are available.
“If we look around the world, particularly at other iconic tourism destinations, they are not accommodating traffic - they are restricting visitor access and introducing new sustainable forms of transport to accommodate visitors. There are better sustainable options for Byron Bay and I want to encourage the council and community to consider a better proposal.
“For decades the Byron Shire community has actively campaigned for a sustainable future and we can all appreciate the protection of the environment and the low scale development and character. The bypass will destroy much of what many residents and visitors love about Byron Bay and that would be a tragic outcome,” said Ms Smith.