Saturday, 24 August 2013

Valley Watch asks Clarence Valley Council to explain the potential impacts of its re-routing and extension of the proposed Yamba Road Bypass

Letter to the Editor Clarence Valley Review 14 August 2013:

On 4th July 2013 Clarence Valley Council referred its proposal to construct a section of a Yamba bypass to the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (SEWPAC). This section extends from Angourie Road (near the Deering Street [east] intersection), passing to the south of Yamba Public School, and connecting with the western end of Coldstream Street. Council describes this part of the proposed bypass as Section 2 of Stage 1.
Council states in its referral that “due to the low-lying nature of the site (particularly the western portion) extensive filling and drainage works would be required, with filling of an additional 1 – 2 metres above current levels required.”
Council made its referral to the Department of SEWPAC but neglected to inform the community of its referral. The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act [1999] provided a 10 business day period for public comment from the date of the referral’s lodgement. Consequently, community members who were unaware of the referral being made missed the window of opportunity the Department of SEWPAC provided for public comment.
Section 1 of Stage 1 of the bypass is planned to extend from Yamba Road at Shores Drive, passing in the vicinity of O’Grady’s Lane’s eastern end, Cox Street and Deering Street’s western end, and connect with the newly constructed eastern section of Deering Street (which runs off Angourie Road) at Quarterdeck Place in the vicinity of the Yamba business park.
According to Council, “Section 1 of the bypass is desired by Council in the immediate term future and has been accounted for to some extent by the construction of the Yamba Industrial area at Deering Street.” (Valley Watch reminds readers that this area is known locally as the Yamba business park and is located to the south of the long-established Yamba industrial estate.)
With respect to Section 2, it “is considered by Council to be a longer term feasibility investigation.”
In documentation accompanying the referral, confirmation was provided that a threatened flora species was recorded at the site and so too were three threatened fauna species.
In bringing this matter to the attention of community members, Valley Watch recommends that a number of perspectives be considered.
• What financial and environmental costs are associated with this project?
• How many millions of dollars will be expended on the bypass?
• What is the opportunity cost of the bypass’s construction? What other project/s will the community have to forego as a consequence of spending limited financial resources on this road?
• How will the proposed filling and drainage of the site impact on surrounding and other areas? Will those areas be subjected to higher levels of flooding?
• Threatened flora and fauna species are at significant risk. Won’t the destruction of existing vegetation increase the risk?
• Considering Section 2 in isolation has an enormous potential to miss the “big picture”.
The entire length of Yamba’s already diminished east-west vegetation corridor is important. Why isn’t it being examined in its totality, rather than the piece-by-piece approach Council appears to favour?
• Mayor Richie Williamson recently commented about potential difficulties for Council in financing the upkeep of the old Pacific Highway within our local government area after the new highway is constructed. Hence, it’s appropriate to ask: what future expenses will need to be met in order to maintain the new bypass?
The failure to inform the community is most regrettable and the questions we pose require a full and frank response.

Ros Woodward
President, Valley Watch


Letter to the editor in online version of The Clarence Valley Review:

Ros Woodward’s letter (CVR 14/8/13), on behalf of Valley Watch, is disturbing for all the reasons she has stated and I encourage everyone who lives in Yamba to speak up about this, whether by letters to the Review, the Council or Councillors or it will just happen.
Why is it that we find, once again, the Council not fulfilling it’s obligations to the community? Last time the proposed by-pass raised its head, the residents of Cox Street found there was to be a survey of their street without any prior notification or approach to any of them. This time we find the Council has referred its proposal to construct a section of the proposed by-pass to the Department of Sustainability without telling us in advance so that we could take advantage of a 10 day window to offer public comment, provided by the relevant Act.
More importantly, why are we even considering a by-pass at this time? Many of us still living here, attended and remember the public meeting some years ago when consultants presented their findings on a previous Council proposal and concluded that a by-pass was not warranted in the next twenty years. What has changed that causes the Council to suddenly take a contrary view?
Personally, I believe there is a much more pressing need for the Council to focus on. Earlier this year, when we had two periods in as many months when Yamba was cut-off, I wrote a letter to the Review suggesting it was time the Council planned to make Yamba Road flood-proof before the new highway was completed. In that letter, I commented that it would be ridiculous if we could not use the new highway just because our route out was sub-standard.
It would be even more ridiculous to construct a so-called Yamba by-pass which couldn’t be used either! Come on Council, get your priorities right!

Brian Holley

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