Showing posts with label Iluka. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Iluka. Show all posts

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

A new year brings old threats to the Clarence River estuary and communities along its banks

Preoccupied with major fire activity since September 2019, it was easy to miss this renewal of cruise industry pressure.....

On 4 October 2019 published an article titled 

This is an extract from that article which will be of considerable interest to communities with environmental, cultural and economic concerns about cruise ships seeking entry into the Clarence River.

"Mayor Cr. Jim Simmons says “We can see a lot of economic benefits for the area…but so far we have had some community angst around the idea and that stems from our experience with large ships in the past. Our concerns are purely environmental concerns, but if that’s all covered, then the community may be very positive.

“Many years ago we had the big timber ships and large vessels coming into the sugar mill – but so far we haven’t had large passenger cruise ships,” Cr. Simmons added.

“If the ships are moored offshore, with passengers tendered in on smaller boats and all of the measures are put in place to protect the ocean environment then this would be something great for Yamba.”

The Clarence Valley mayor has obviously drunk the cruise industry Kool-Aid, if he seriously believes that cruise ships will make any significant contribution to the economies of Yamba, Iluka or Maclean.

There is enough evidence to the contrary coming from cities and towns around the world that have become cruise destinations. Specifically the fact that cruise lines inflate projections of the spending capacity of their passengers which are rarely realised, as a matter of company policy tend to poorly pay local tourism operators for services, charge local businesses a fee for inclusion in ship brochures, seek significant concessions on port fees and cruise ship activity generally tends to depress land-based tourism over time. [See]

As for his suggestion of mooring offshore - there is no sheltered coastline near the mouth of the Clarence River to make disembarking or boarding a cruise ship reliably risk free for passengers.

While characterising community concerns as being "purely environmental", this is a simplistic explanation given a significant Yaegl cultural/spiritual site held under Native Title lies across the entrance to the Clarence River. 
Dirrangun reef showing as a lighter blue crescent in the ocean adjacent to the breakwater walls

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

One of the reasons regional living is so good is the size and strength of community spirit

The Clarence Independent, 25 July 2019:

Iluka Bowls Club’s president, Ray Flaherty (4th form right, front), Ann and John McLean (centre with white t-shirts), pictured with bowls club directors and members. Image: Contributed

Iluka Bowls Club has offered to provide land for the proposed ambulance station in Iluka. 

Estimated to come with a $10million price tag, the NSW Government is currently working on “detailed service planning” and “site acquisitions studies” for the proposed station, Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis said after the NSW budget was released in June. 

The bowls club’s general manager, Nicola Donsworth, said the land is located next to the netball court on the corner of Denne and Spenser streets. 

“It would be a perfect central location, with two street accesses, next to the helicopter landing area on the sports oval and next to the skate park and, and as we know, the majority of our town’s population is ageing. 

“It may be necessary to rezone the land but it might be an offer that the council and state government might find difficult to refuse. 

“We are hoping that if this offer is viable it may speed up the process and get this ambulance station established.” Ms Donsworth said the club’s board is in favour of the idea, subject to the club members’ approval. 

Ambulance Action Group spearheads, Ann and John McLean, welcomed the offer.

“The need for an ambulance station in Iluka has become more important than ever,” Ms McLean said. “Response times are getting longer. 

“There have been many incidents where paramedics have been sent from Grafton and Evans Head, due to there not being an ambulance available in Yamba or Maclean.  
“This is often caused because the paramedics are being utilised to transport patients from Maclean to Lismore or the Gold Coast.....

The budget papers list the ambulance station as commencing “prior to March 2023”.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

INVITATION FOR PUBLIC COMMENT: Proposed 19.4ha subdivision at Hickey Street, Iluka. curently being assessed as a controlled action

This proposed development of 19.41ha of forested land adjacent to World Heritage Gondwana coastal rainforest in Iluka, NSW, was first sent for public consultation in December 2015.

This is probably the last chance that community members have to offer their opinion on the plan for a 141 lot subdivision on the lot.

The Stevens Group has issued an Invitation for Public Comment which reads in part:

The preliminary documentation for the proposed action is on display and will be publicly available, to be viewed or obtained by download from the online facility without charge, from the 24 September 2018 until 4:30pm (AEST) on the 2 November 2018, at the following locations:

 § Clarence Valley Council Administrative Centre – 2 Prince Street, Grafton, NSW;
 § Clarence Valley Council Administrative Centre – 50 River Street, Maclean, NSW;
 § Iluka Library – Corner Duke Street & Micalo Street, Iluka, NSW;
§ NSW Office of Environment and Heritage – NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Level 4, 49-51 Victoria Street, Grafton, NSW;

§ Online at /– a link to the preliminary documentation will be available by selecting the ‘Residential’ page, then by choosing the “Iluka Subdivision – Invitation For Public Comment” tab.

Interested persons and organisations are invited to view the preliminary documentation. Written comments can be directed to Stevens Holdings Pty Limited, C/- Ocean Park Consulting Pty Limited, PO Box 99, Miami, QLD 4220, or email ( 

Deadline for submissions is 2 November 2018.

Monday, 20 August 2018

Clarence River Estuary communities need to remain both alert and alarmed as NSW Berejiklian Government seeks to expand exposure to international cruise ship industry

In July 2018 the NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government released the document “NSW Cruise Development Plan” to the delight of the international cruise ship industry.

This plan confirms that Berejiklian ministry - sitting in offices over 670kms south of the small towns of Yamba and Iluka on the banks of the Clarence River estuary - is still pursuing the idea that the Port of Yamba is a potential official cruise ship destination.

The state government also obviously expects that Clarence Valley local government will both accommodate the needs of the plan and contribute to the cost of meeting this aim if it is progressed.

To further the Berejiklian Government’s aim to make as many small ports or undeveloped harbours/inlets capable of use by cruise ships the NSW Cruise Development Plan states that:

A regulatory framework that fosters the competitiveness of ports, encourages the expansion of the tourism sector, minimises environmental impacts, protects the community, and supports jobs growth is required for the NSW cruise industry.
National regulatory barriers currently inhibit the cruise industry, including the small expedition and luxury cruise market’s, access to NSW coastal ports.

Differences in regulatory requirements between states also restricts the freedom of cruise liners to set national itineraries that take advantage of regional ports.
The NSW Government will continue to lead discussions with the other States, Territories and the Commonwealth on removing regulatory barriers that limit cruise ship growth potential.

Action: The NSW Government will investigate opportunities to remove regulatory barriers to entry for emerging cruise markets, including the expedition cruise market, and will seek an inter-jurisdictional policy position with other governments. [my yellow highlighting]

What the Liberal-Nationals government in faraway Sydney considers as “regulatory barriers” may not be what the people of the Lower Clarence River consider as impediments which should be removed.

They are in place for good reason and any weakening of these regulations has the potential to affect the environmental sustainability of an ancient, healthy and highly productive estuary system which is the largest in south-east Australia and, whose waters are covered by Yaegl Native Title.

Facts estuary communities may need to continually press upon a state government wrapped up as it is in a cosy relationship with the international cruise ship industry.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

NSW Roads & Maritime Services finally come clean: We don't give a damn about any of the concerns Woombah & Iluka residents have about our asphalt plant, it's only Pacific Complete's bottom line that matters

The Daily Examiner via Press Reader, 1 August 2018:

ROADS and Martime Services has revealed it will build at least two asphalt batching plants near the Pacific Highway, most likely between Tyndale and the Iluka turnoff, next year.

Pacific Highway general manager Bob Higgins said the RMS has pressed the pause button on construction of one plant at Woombah, but the need to supply the Glenugie to Iluka Rd turnoff section with 170,000 tonnes of asphalt would require two plants.

He said the RMS would review the supply strategy for the manufacture and delivery of asphalt on the stretch of highway upgrade after protests from the Woombah community.

But Mr Higgins said if push came to shove when the RMS review decided on locations, residents’ objections would take second place to the technical needs of the project. [my yellow highlighting]

What a travesty Pacific Highway Upgrade community consultations are cannot get much clearer than this.

I'm sure local residents will not be pleased to have their fears confirmed.

Whether he meant to or not, Bob Higgins has probably just cemented the proposed Woombah asphalt batching site as a March 2019 NSW state election issue in the Clarence electorate for both the NSW National Party and the Berejiklian Coalition Government.

No-one likes to be told their valid concerns - about environmental impact, road safety, air quality and potential reduction in tourism numbers which underpin the local economy - don't matter to the state government down in Sydney.


Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Pacific Highway Upgrade 2018: the saga of the unwanted Woombah asphalt batching plant continues

In its latest letterbox drop to Woombah and Iluka communities on 30 July 2018 NSW Road and Maritime Services (RMS) has admitted that, despite a commitment to review the proposed site of the Woombah temporary asphalt plant servicing the Iluka to Devil’s Pulpit section of the Pacific Highway upgrade, it still intends to place 4,000 tons of asphalt on this site by Christmas 2018.

As if from these photographs below locals could not already tell that the plan to use the site for asphalt batching remains active - despite strong community opposition based on road safety, air quality, health and environmental concerns.

Photographs supplied anonymously

This turnoff is the temporary Pacific Highway-Garrets Lane intersection created in March 2018 by NSW Roads and Maritime Services and Pacific Complete as the highway upgrade proceeds along a 27 kilometre stretch. 

It is also the intersection now used by heavy vehicles accessing the proposed site of the temporary asphalt batching plant.

It is an intersection and road Pacific Complete is assuring local residents has been designed and built in accordance with the design criteria.

As the Iluka and Woombah communities were not supplied with a detailed traffic audit for the road design or the change to road design which is set to occur in 2019, they have to take the consortium's word that this is so.

If the complaints by some local residents of being harried by impatient construction truck drivers as they attempt to negotiate the Pacific Highway-Garrets Lane turnoff are any indication, between now and Christmas there may be another collision there.

RMS and Pacific Complete have promised to hold information sessions with the two communities again - one version states sessions commence on 30 July 2018 and another rather obscure document states they commence on 30 August 2018.

July 30 has come and gone without that particular information session taking place.

The deadline for submissions on the temporary asphalt batching plant is 10 August 2018.

Given that deadline, either RMS and Pacific Complete are the most appalling managers of the community consultation process or they are trying to limit the ability to submit fully informed written responses by10 August.

The suspicion that National Party cronyism has played a part in the choice of site is starting to be quietly muttered under the breath as well. It seems Lower Clarence River folk have long memories.

This botched Iluka to Devil's Pulpit highway construction planning and community consultation is likely to be on the minds of quite a few Woombah and Iluka residents as they cast their votes at the NSW state election in March next year.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Pacific Highway Upgrade has hit a noticeable bump in the road and the fault lies firmly with NSW Roads and Maritime Services, Pacific Complete, the Minister for Roads and the National Party

In July 2018 the NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) was called to account by the communities of Woombah and Iluka for a lack of transparency and only paying lip service to community consultation with regard to the Iluka to Devil's Pulpit Section 6 stage of the Pacific Highway upgrade and, the plan to site a temporary asphalt batching plant and a foamed bitumen plant on a rural lot adjoining the Pacific Highway-Iluka Road T-intersection.

Iluka Road is the only road in and out of both of these small villages whose local economies are heavily reliant on a clean, green, family friendly image and nature-based tourism.

This is the official response of the Pacific Highway upgrade consortium to date:

Nationals MP For Clarence Chris Gulaptis in another media release characterised the RMS-Pacific Complete response as Back to the drawing board for Clarence Pacific Highway upgrade asphalt plant temporary asphalt batch plant.

It is unfortunate that he did so, as Woombah residents can clearly see that site preparation on the lot is still proceeding for the temporary asphalt plant and foamed bitumen plant.

Which leaves some residents concerned that Chris Gulaptis is primarily focused on commercial needs of the Pacific Complete consortium and, that NSW Roads and Maritime Services having been caught out are now merely going through the motions so that there is a suitable paper trail should the issue become even more contentious and so come to the notice of Minister for Roads Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey.

Residents point out that Jackybulbin and the Rest Area approximately five kilometres away are ideal sites. That the Woombah lot is probably the construction consortium's preferred ancillary site simply because they have an existing lease there.

In response to Gulaptis' spin for the consumption of local media, Woombah and Iluka residents opposing the preferred site have stated in an email:

1. Woombah and Iluka stand united in expressing 'no confidence' in the Laing O'Rourke/Brinkerhoff unincorporated consortium known as "Pacific Complete". Laing O'Orurke is the correct identity for publishing as it is the INSURED PARTY (see attached). Laing O'Rourke Australian arm is for sale and Brinkerhoff is the named party in several issues with previous works such as Lane Cove Tunnel.

2. "Pacific Complete" has been negligent in [failing to notify] the affected members of the communities (all road users of these communities including children on buses and visitors and assessing the proposed shared access roads) and the lack of experience by the "Pacific Complete" Project Team has caused serious distress to the residents of Woombah and Iluka due to two failed communications engagements.

3. "Pacific Complete" and the Roads & Maritime Service NSW has pursued it's objectives and shown complete disregard toward the genuine safety and security issues that will be faced by residents using Iluka Rd to the Iluka Road Pacific Highway turn-off.

4. "Pacific Complete" failed in its duty to correctly identify and assess all viable sites for the asphalt plant.

5. At this time "Pacific Complete" and RMS have offered no traffic solution in the event that no other suitable location of the plant can be identified.

6. Should "Pacific Complete" and the RMS pursue the Woombah site for the Asphalt Batch Plant with no dedicated route for construction/plant vehicles, residents of Woombah & Iluka will consider forming a class action lawsuit against the parties for wilful endangerment.

7. Objectives now are to monitor Pacific Complete to take the preferred site as one of other now five options that do not affect traffic, local residents and the environment.

8. January is Pacific Complete peak movement of trucks month for the Asphalt Plant. They did not consider this ….would affect our peak Holiday period?

Research by local residents also suggests that RMS and Pacific Complete may not be fully compliant with guidelines for the establishment of ancillary facilities when it comes to the Woombah site.

Of particular concern is; (i) the south west flow of surface water on the lot and, whether during any high rainfall event over the next two and a half years, contaminated water might escape and flow from the batching plant infrastructure into the 80ha Mororo Creek Nature Reserve and then along the final est. 2.5km length of the creek which empties into the Clarence River estuary and (ii) the proposed shared access road for heavy trucks and residents' cars and school buses now intersects with the proposed ancillary site at a point which is a known koala crossing.

Image contributed

The next NSW state election will be held on 23 March 2019 in just eight months time.

If the Woobah site remains the preferred site, by then the asphalt batching plant (and possibly the foamed bitumen plant) will have been operational for at least five months and up to 500 heavy truck movements a day will have been occurring over that time with peak activity coinciding with the Woombah-Iluka annual summer tourism period 

One wonders what the Berejiklian Government down in Sydney and the NSW National Party were thinking.

Do they really believe the dust, noise, odour and disruptive traffic will endear Chris Gulaptis to voters in these towns on polling day?

Monday, 16 July 2018

Not everyone was impressed by NSW Roads and Maritime Services temporary asphalt batching plant "drop-in information session"

Meme contributed
The Pacific Highway upgrade between Woolgoolga and Ballina is being progressed by the Pacific Complete consortium composed of NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), UK multinational Laing O'Rourke and Canadian multinational WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff.

On 11 July 2018 this consortium held a drop-in information session on the subject of the proposed temporary asphalt batching plant at Woombah, a small village in the Clarence River estuary.

This batching plant servicing the Pacific Highway upgrade for the next two and a half years will see up tp 600 heavy and light vehicle movements each day at the Pacific Highway turnoff to Woombah and Iluka - up to 500 heavy vehicle and 100 light vehicle.

Residents from Woombah and Iluka attended the information session.

It was a masterpiece of information sharing apparently.

 Here are selected quotes from one Woombah resident's notes taken at the time.

* "Drop in session by Pacific Complete = complete disaster."

* "The Pad being constructed out of existing 'stock pile and lay down' being prepared for the Asphalt plant did not require approval - Bronwyn Campbell, Communications Director"

* "It just made it the lead contender for the only three sites you investigated raising it above the 1 in 100 flood level?
"Don't know what you're getting at" -  Bronwyn Campbell, Communications Director" 

* "Safety Audit has been conducted for the Iluka turnoff" - Bronwyn Campbell, Communications Director 
By who?
"Don't know" - Bronwyn Campbell, Communications Director 
Can I get a copy?
"No - we do not give those out" - Bronwyn Campbell, Communications Director" 

* "The TRAFFIC INFO TABLE manned by Dave Allars and Ryan Leth were asked what traffic management were to be put in place for the construction of the Plant and the construction of the new Iluka Woombah intersection.
"Don't know" - Dave Allars"

Additional comment from a Woombah resident:

"Did you get to see Andrew Baker's response to briefing? Makes Gulaptis look smart."

“In his defense, he was lied to as well. Because they will force ALL TRAFFIC onto the new route - they told people was for southbound traffic only - the map clearly shows the old route (old Pac and Garrets will be closed) making the problem in fact - worse."

An email discussing the information session was also being sent out from Woombah:

“Pushing the residential/truck choke point from Iluka Road down to the new access road by 31 March 2019 is not a solution to the traffic safety problem. By closing off the Garrett's Lane Access to the Pacific Hwy, the exact same problem of congested traffic with the Plant will still exist into the foreseeable future. Given the Q1 2019 Map (attached) the dangers are increased with truck entry just meters from the New Pacific Hwy Entry. They will make the traffic problem even worse.

One Iluka resident had this to say about the information session:

"I see in the handout that they decided to slip in a concrete batching plant on the same site as well. Does that mean there will be even more trucks?"

Another Iluka resident had this to say about that same  information session:

“Unbelievably slick PR operation engaging up to 30 or even 50 of the staff from within the complex, mostly office and management type staff I think. All squeaky clean and friendly with first names on their jackets.

A few of the highway people were across the issues but there was a lot of “I don’t know" or "I’ll get back to you” or “come over here and meet so and so who might know”.

They claim the batching plant is world’s best practice with systems in place to capture fugitive dusts and emissions.

I asked repeatedly about trucks carrying bitumen into the asphalt plant, or out of the plant as asphalt  were considered a Hazmat incident if there was an accident involving either the bitumen tankers or the asphalt trucks, but couldn’t really get an answer. No one seemed to know.

Plenty of spin last night.”


Bitumin and asphalt are flammable and combustible solids which are Class 4 dangerous goods.

NSW Roads and Maritime Services, Work Health and Safety Procedures: Bitumin, 1 September 2017, excerpts:

Roads and Maritime Services managers must ensure that appropriate systems are in place to identify, assess and control workers’ exposure to bitumen. Additionally, managers must ensure that workers are provided with relevant information, training, instruction and supervision in the safe use, handling and emergency response requirements (for example bitumen burns cards) of bitumen products. Workers should be able to conduct their work without a risk to their health and safety. For their part, they need to take necessary precautions to prevent and effectively manage the potential hazards and risks of working with bitumen. Industry partners are required to meet work health and safety (WHS) legislative requirements and have in place appropriate safety management systems. Designers of Roads and Maritime infrastructure must eliminate or control (where elimination is not reasonably practicable) the possibility of injury or damage caused by work with bitumen during the construction, use, maintenance or demolition of infrastructure…

Work with bitumen refers to road construction and maintenance work involving:

* All aspects of ‘cold’ bitumen work (such as crack sealing or jointing and road maintenance using cold mix with emulsions applied at ambient temperature)

* ‘Hot’ bitumen products, which are those applied above ambient temperature. These include blending or heated bitumen binders, asphalt batch plant product, laying asphalt, stabilisation of granular materials with hot foamed bitumen, sprayed sealing with hot cutback or polymer modified bitumen or crack sealing with hot sealants

* Bitumen binders include cutback bitumen (with added solvents), bitumen emulsion (with chemically treated water), modified binders (including suitable storage with correct product signs and classification under Dangerous Goods) and oxidised bitumen…..

After identifying the hazards, risks and levels of risk for each risk, it is now necessary to identify and implement appropriate hazard controls. Where no single measure is sufficient, a number or combination of controls is usually required….

Ensuring emergency plans are developed for the specific worksite and emergency information panels are displayed on sides of vehicles carrying dangerous goods (HAZCHEM and UN Numbers), emergency contact numbers and Transport Management Centre (131700), where appropriate.


On Saturday 14 July 2018 the Woombah community held a meeting on the subject of the proposed temporary asphalt plant. This meeting was attended by Roads and Maritime Services Bob Higgins, some Pacific Complete staff and the Nationals MP for Clarence, Chris Gulaptis.

North Coast Voices has received a number of emails concerning this meeting and here are selected quotes:

* “Time after time – Pacific Complete were asked direct and specific questions that were uncomfortably left unanswered.”

* “Chris Gulaptis – when pressed several times “Would YOU like to like your family to live next door to an asphalt plant?” drew a pathetic “I do not know” to finally a capitulation.”

* “When asked about the toxic fumes Mr Gulaptis said ‘I don’t know until I know….but if its bad, if its toxic then of course it should be cut down, it should be closed down and it shouldn't be anywhere in fact, let alone on the corner of Iluka road but at the end of the day its got to go somewhere and we are going to look at the best site and the site that will least impact on our community’.”

* “Mr Bob Higgins, the representative from the RMS, who is in charge of delivering this project, was even more dismissive of community concerns regarding health, suggesting that things have improved over the years and “They have filters they have scrubbers so essentially it is steam which you see coming out.”  He further went on to question in relation to odour s from the plant “Is it harmful or is it inconvenient”  “Is it harmful?  I don’t believe this is the case.”  
I was appalled by that response. Steam does not have an odour! Bob Higgins has previously admitted on the ABC radio that Asphalt Plants do smell, they do have an odour. Breathing in  and smelling something means you are reacting to certain chemicals in the air. Those odours can be toxic and cause headache, nausea and other harmful health effects. 
Mr Higgins also stated that not only is the site to be used for stockpiling paving materials and then the asphalt batching plant but also a Foamed bitumen plant, which had not been disclosed to the community previously.  I find this also to be an additional concern."

* “It was brought to the attention of the meeting by a local residents that the Mororo Wetlands which lies on the western side of the highway is an area of significant environmental significant s with a number off endangered species of animals and pants as well as a koala presence.  From observation of the site it is clear that any run off from that site runs underneath the highway into Mororo Creek and Mororo Reserve. This was not addressed by anyone at the meeting."

* “Adam did talk about a new corridor being constructed under the highway for koalas to travel from one side of the highway to another however nothing about the current corridor which currently opens up onto the prepared site of the batch plant. He did not state the new corridor would be completed prior to proposed operation of the batch plant. Has anyone informed the Koalas?”

* “No answers were forthcoming from any speaker that addressed the dangers to the public, only that studies were currently underway. They had no plans in place to protect the safety of local road users.”

It appears that this meeting was at times quite testy with Gulaptis alternating between being quite defensive or argumentative, however it has resulted in a promise on the part of Roads and Maritime Services of a second extension to the formal submission period. With a date yet to be fixed.

Unfortunately what appears to have also been admitted is that because there are not one but two seperate plants that will be operating on the site, the number of construction vehicle movement is higher than previously disclosed.

For those interested, here is a link to the audio of this meeting:

At 43:11mins a Woombah resident living close to the proposed site with her husband who has Stage 4 lung cancer spoke of lack of available information, questioned air quality and any effect this may have on her husband's quality of life. 


Another concerned Woombah resident’s opinion of the 14 July community meeting:

“From the outset it was clear the community who had gathered in the park yesterday, wouldn't receive the answers they deserved to the questions they had asked.  Chris Gulpatis was keen to tell the crowd just how much money his government was spending.   I suspect we were meant to feel grateful for all the government is doing for us but isn't this their job? Chris explained he had had a briefing on the plant the other day and thought it all looked pretty good.  He qualified this with not being a resident of Woombah or Iluka, nor an engineer, he also wasn't familiar with the process.  Hey hold on Chris why didn't you make yourself familiar about this?  You knew you were coming to a meeting with your constituents who were concerned?....

The first resident to ask a question was about the traffic and the number of vehicles we could expect.  The documentation had these numbers as being different and residents were clearly confused.  They were told there would be around 300 vehicle movements on the days when the plant was working at peak but that there were other truck movements to expect and so the number was more like 500.  There was a quick sorry but that was the nature of the business. 

When asked about contingency plans for peak holiday periods like Christmas, was there a plan for managing this? We were told that up and down the highway there were severe guidelines in place with their contractors designed to manage their movements on the highway during holiday periods and that has been in place for many years.  So how come the pretty graph you have given us shows peak truck movements in January next year as the bitumen plant ramps up their production?  Aren't you contradicting yourself Bob?

Next we heard from a resident living in Banana Road with specialist interest in wildlife.  He asked about the large koala corridor that comes out at the access point of the proposed bitumen plant.  The response to this was rather amusing from Bob as he started he started to tell him about the koala corridor, the resident was quick to say I know about this too Bob.  He asked what happens here with this corridor where we have koalas using this corridor all the time and coming out at Mororo Creek Reserve.  He informed Bob the UNSW had been working in the area for the last four years and they had found endangered species including the golden headed python and sugar gliders.  His question was how do you address this?  Bob reminded us of his long experience and general experience of building roads on the highway and that he had come across this before.  He was asked where was this information for the public to consider when undertaking their consultation.  There was no reply to this question.

The next question was about the traffic flow asking about the high numbers of trucks in January - was this a mistake in the projections being put forward as it was a peak period for tourism in the area during this holiday period.  His answer to this questions was rather confusing and he just restated his earlier advice that there were strict guidelines in place for contractors……

The next resident summed it up eloquently, the community were concerned, they were worried the plant would affect their health.  Full stop.  Another resident who worked for WIRES said he was pretty pissed off as he had released a number of rescued animals into the area of the plant.  When asked about how odour would be contained on the site the team looked worried.  Bob took the question saying odour was an interesting one because it was all about smell.... yes Bob we know!  The question he suggested we needed to think about was - was it harmful to someone or was it an inconvenience to someone, he said he couldn't answer this one, the crowd suggested they could!

One of the residents closest to the plant had a couple of questions regarding due process.  She had bought there just two years ago and had done due diligence of all the searches possible.  She knew the road works were coming and was grateful for that.  The only thing that turned up in her searches was the compound across the road.  She asked why if you know there is bitumen required for the road why couldn't I find such information.  A year ago someone from the consortium had turned up at her property unannounced to say they were renting some land for raw materials as a depot or stockpile.  Moving on a year later they get a letter box drop saying feedback was being sought with a week to do this.  When attending the information session last Wednesday she asked where was the report about air quality?  She was told this wasn't available for two weeks.  She asked this because as one of her major concerns is about this as her husband is dying from Stage 4 Lung Cancer.  She couldn't understand how this information wasn't available within the timeframe of the consultation.  She appealed directly to Chris asking him "what can you do for my husband?  We bought here because of the zoning, because of how it protects wildlife, for the environment, we have no chance to sell our property.  A) because they don't have the energy, B) because they would lose money and my husband's dying days is going to be what no one here seems to be able to tell me what he will be breathing in, what he will smell and how its going to impact on his quality of life and his quality of death"….

Do the residents of Woombah feel they have been listened to?  I don't think so.  One woman expressed just that before the consultation was wound up. She was upset because she didn't feel like we had been listened to and most people in the audience felt the same way.

At the end there was a little concession – let’s extend the consultation.  That's all well and good but when are you going to hand over the information we need upon which to make our judgements?  When exactly? "

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

NSW Berejiklian Government 2018: How not to conduct a community consultation in the Clarence Valley, NSW

The Daily Examiner, Letter to the Editor, 10 July 2018, p.13:

So Road and Maritime Services intends to establish a temporary asphalt batching plant at Woombah with a heavy truck access road crossing Iluka Road approximately 230 metres from the Pacific Highway T-intersection.

One couldn’t choose a site more unsafe for private vehicles and more disruptive to tourist traffic. One that also is less than 500 metres from a waterway which empties into the Clarence River Estuary.

One couldn’t find a more inadequate approach to community consultation.

The Pillar Valley community were given an RMS community information session scheduled to last one and a half hours in May 2016 ahead of construction of a temporary batching plant there.

In September 2016 the Donnellyville community received a detailed 5-page information document at least a month ahead of construction and this included an aerial map showing infrastructure layout within the proposed temporary batching plant site. Up front the community was allotted two drop-in information sessions.
Most of the residents in Woombah and Iluka appear to have found out about the proposed temporary plant planned for Woombah in July 2018, the same month construction is due to start.

This plant will be in use for the next two and a half years but only a few residents were given some rudimentary information in a 3-page document and initially the community was not even offered a drop-in information session.

Perhaps the NSW Minister for Roads Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey, and Roads and Maritime Services might like to explain the haphazard, belated approach taken to informing the communities of Woombah and Iluka of the proposed plant.

The people of Woombah and Iluka deserve better. They deserve a formal information night which canvasses all the issues, with representatives from RMS and the Pacific Highway project team prepared to address concerns and answer questions, as well as a representative of the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight in attendance as an observer.

They don’t deserve to be fobbed off with a quick patch-up, comprising a drop-in information session and one RMS representative deciding to attend a local community run meeting.

I’m sure that all residents and business owners in both Woombah and Iluka would appreciate a departmental re-think of this situation.

Judith Melville, Yamba

It is also beginning to look as though Roads and Maritime Services is only just getting around to meeting with Clarence Valley shire councillors as a group this week to brief them on the asphalt batching plant site.