Copy of News Release 800

GOVERNMENTS MUST OBTAIN CONSENSUS ON

BYPASSING COFFS HARBOUR

The two governments need to make the case that this is the right route; with the right design, and with overwhelming public support.

We support the bypassing of Coffs Harbour as soon as possible, but not at any cost to the community, natural environment, heritage or economy.

There’s been a Liberal and National Coalition Government in Sydney since 2011 and since 2013 in Canberra. Both governments should have been ready to start construction in July this year with a consensus route and design.

Instead, they told us in May this year that project won’t start until the 2020/21 financial year. Then we learned it is yet to be finally approved via a “business case” by the Federal Government and that won’t happen until June 2019. Now, we have the ‘no tunnels’ bombshell dropped on the community at the last minute as a done deal. We also know they’ve put forward a preferred design without doing studies on the impact of noise, the natural environment and Aboriginal heritage. Finally, they have researched community attitudes to the project as a part of the justification, but this occurred before the design without tunnels was known. This project has been totally mismanaged.

The governments need to listen to the people of Coffs Harbour and reach consensus on a long-term and sustainable solution to the bypassing of Coffs Harbour. The current design is not socially, environmentally or economically sustainable. It is totally unacceptable with trenches instead of real tunnels.

The route and designs are decisions that shouldn’t be rushed. The current public consultation and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process is a tick-box exercise by governments. They are hell bent on railroading this through the Christmas and new year periods in the hope that people will not comment so that they can have some pre-election PR announcements.

The current timetable for consultation should be extended to allow proper and informed discussion. The EIS needs to be based on the consensus route and design. However, that extension should not be used by the governments as an excuse to delay a bypass. The people of the Coffs Harbour region have already waited too long. The state and federal governments need to get on with the job.

The route and design are key aspects this and future generations will have to live with the consequences of every hour of every day for a century. If it takes the community and government a little longer to reach consensus, so be it.

If the governments can’t reach consensus with the people of Coffs Harbour on the current route and design, it falls to them to come up with proposals that do.

We urge the community to attend this Thursday’s meeting at the PCYC at 7 pm where various speakers will give perspectives on the route and design.

MONDAY, 8 OCTOBER 2018