A wetland win

IN what can only be interpreted as a bit Christmas goodwill the NSW Minister for Roads, Michael Daley, has confirmed the invitation to Bellingen Shire Council to provide alternative options to the RTA's proposal to clear part of Cameron's Corner wetland as part of the Waterfall Way road upgrade.

The invitation was made in response to a delegation of Shire residents who met with the Minister shortly before Christmas.

The Minister has even indicated that if Council remains opposed to the current route option he would be interested in being updated on what Council's preferred option to upgrade the road would be.

“Now the community finally has a chance to have its say,” said spokesperson Tim Cadman.

Cameron's Corner Wetland on Waterfall Way is one of a few tiny remnants of the once great coastal floodplain forests of the Eastern Seaboard.

It contains swamp sclerophyll forest on coastal floodplains and freshwater wetlands on coastal floodplains. The Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) determined to bulldoze a road upgrade through the area in 2004.

The area is home to several endangered species of bat, glider and birds. Since the original project, the area has been zoned 7 a environmental protection (wetlands) by Bellingen Shire Council, and Endangered Ecological Community (EEC) by the NSW Government.

Despite these developments, RTA had intended to clear part of the area for its road, and in order to justify its operations, commissioned a new environmental report, known as a Review of Environmental Factors (REF) to support its intentions.

On the North Coast we have credible reports going back 40 years that 70 per cent of our coastal wetlands were already destroyed.

One of the major contributors to ongoing wetland destruction is the RTA's Pacific Highway upgrade.

Persistent action by the local Bellingen community now appears to have paid off in getting the Minister to at least take the keys from the RTA bulldozer over the Christmas break.

Christmas doesn't last forever the need for ongoing community vigilance remains apparent.

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