Last Chance to Have Your Say on Byron’s Massive New Suburb

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With public submissions closing on Thursday (March 29) for a massive new suburb in Byron Bay, local state Greens MP Tamara Smith delivered 76 West Byron public submissions to Byron Shire Council on Friday.

They were sent to her office, and Ms Smith is urging residents to get involved to tell the consent authority, the Joint Regional Planning Panel, what they think of the development.

She said, ‘Please, if you have concerns about the effects these two large developments will have on Byron Bay, our environment and our way of life, make a submission. Let the decision makers know these proposals for West Byron are not in keeping with the local area.’

Two DAs are on display – 10.2017.661.1 and 10.2017.201.1, and cover the entire 108-hectare development area on Ewingsdale Road, opposite the the Arts and Industry Estate

A suggested letter of opposition is available at Ms Smith’s website.

Concerns raised by Ms Smith include increasing the strain on already stretched services. ‘With more than 1,000 houses proposed, it’s estimated the population will grow 25 per cent,’ she said.

‘Over 14,000 vehicle trips per day on Ewingsdale Road would also be generated according to the traffic reports.’

‘This will almost double the current weekday traffic, dramatically affecting the efficiency and operation of Byron’s major inbound road – in contravention of clause 101 of State Environmental Planning Policy Infrastructure 2007.’

Ms Smith claims a koala corridor would be severed that allows ‘movement from north to south, which will put more pressure on an already fragile koala population.’

‘West Byron has 5.5ha of scattered patches of core koala habitat, of which 2ha (37 per cent) is intended to be cleared.’

As for flood risks, Ms Smith says the ‘development site is a drained wetland that is flood affected.’

‘It is directly adjacent to the Belongil Creek and close to the estuary. Placing hard surfaces on it such as roads and slabs will decrease the capacity of the land to absorb water, which has to find a way to drain, eventually, into Belongil Creek. Our wetlands are precious and must be protected.

One million tonnes of fill

‘The proposal is to fill most of the site to 0.5m above the assessed flood level, which requires fill up to 3m deep, [requiring the import of about] 500,000m3 of fill, which can be expected to weigh around one million tonnes. This will also add to current traffic problems, and take a toll on current infrastructure.

‘The West Byron site is a low-lying wetland that feeds directly into Belongil Creek, It currently has highly acidic soils, acid sulfate soils, and a high water table with significant pollutants. The construction process will expose our waterways to toxic heavy-metal runoff, then we’ll be swimming, surfing and fishing in it.

‘There are 35ha of remnant native vegetation on the West Byron Urban Release Area, of which 10.6 ha is proposed for clearing.’

Clear wetland

She continued, ‘Local landholders are proposing to clear 1.8ha of environmental zones, and have made no attempt to minimise intrusions or assess the areas affected. Species Impact Statements must be prepared for the Wallum Sedge Frog and koala and these should be referred to the Commonwealth for consideration under the EPBC Act 1999.’

‘Byron Bay is an internationally renowned tourist destination; most of our local businesses rely on tourist dollars to survive and thrive.

‘Increased traffic congestion, polluted waterways and a generic mega-suburb at our entrance will damage our reputation as a unique holiday destination.

‘The decision making about the approval for the West Byron development was taken away from our local council. We don’t want the financial gain of wealthy developers to come at the cost of our way of life. We choose to live here because we love it. Every submission counts.’

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