Thursday, 8 August 2013

An end run around transparent local government in the Clarence Valley

Letter to the editor published in The Daily Examiner 7 August 2013:

Glaring omission

What a masterful piece of misdirection on Clarence Valley Council’s part can be found in “Not so ‘sensitve’ after all” [The Daily Examiner, 2August 2013].

Point to the front cover of the “Review of Environmental Factors – Yamba Bypass Section 2”  report and cry; the consultant did it not us – nothing to see here!

Actually, the form Clarence Valley Council was required to submit with its referral documents, and which was co-signed by Council, listed two reports as "Not publicly available".

The “Review of Environmental Factors” (along with a second flora and fauna study) was ordered to be undertaken by unanimous vote of councillors on 26 July 2012  when considering Item 13.079/12 Stage 1 Yamba Urban By-pass Road and Urban Intersections Project and, should properly have been presented to councillors for their information by now.

The relevant motion in part resolved: "The scope of Stage 1 of the Yamba Urban Bypass and Urban Intersections project be: extend existing road from Yamba Road / Shores Drive intersection to Coldstream Street."

Management has now arbitrarily split Stage 1 of this bypass road into Section 1 and Section 2, in what looks suspiciously like an attempt to prohibit an integrated overview of flora and fauna along the length of the yet to be constructed road rather than a legitimate planning requirement.

However this does not remove its obligation to keep all councillors informed, as the motion went to the overarching Item 13.079/12.

Many Yamba residents will remember that the reason parts of this motion were put forward in the first place was the fact that neither councillors nor community has [sic] been aware that the Yamba Bypass was being progressed and in a different manner to earlier plans.

Thankfully, the Federal Environment Minister has been more obliging, so both councillors and Yamba residents can go to and download the referral form and all attachments - with the exception of the flora and fauna study/assessment as it is still missing from the public record.

If one believes Council’s referral form, all this need for sensitivity is supposedly an effort to protect one endangered species from public knowledge – which is laughable given Maclean Council documents openly mentioned its existence on the proposed bypass route, Clarence Valley Council documents helpfully point out what sort of vegetation clusters in Yamba are likely to contain this species and as late as 2006 was mentioning it in print and online media in relation to the bypass route
What this secrecy did achieve was to lock both the Yamba and Yaegl communities out of the ten day public comment period in which objections could be made to the Federal Environment Minister in relation to the contents of Council’s referral documents.


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