Highway group plans for WAR
IT WAS a case of 'not happy, Eric' when Woolgoolga residents met last week to discuss their next move in relation to the Pacific Highway upgrade on the Northern Beaches and bypass of Woolgoolga. Members of the Woolgoolga Area Resident's Group (WAR), the Bypass Action Network (BAN) and concerned residents gathered at the Woolgoolga Primary School hall to develop an action plan in response to a joint ministerial announcement. The announcement from NSW Roads Minister Eric Roozendaal and his federal equivalent, Jim Lloyd, was for $22 million to fund design, environmental assessment, land purchase and relocation of utilities ahead of tenders to construct a motorway along the current Pacific Highway route from Sapphire to Woolgoolga and bypass Option E west of Woolgoolga. Option E was a late inclusion pushed by the Coffs Harbour City Council after the community rejected proposed options A, B1, B2, C and D. However, there is some level of community opposition to Option E due to its late inclusion. BAN and WAR maintain that Option E was not subject to the same level of scrutiny or assessment as the other options that were rejected by the community and RTA. At last week's meeting, members of BAN and WAR voted to demand an urgent Community Focus Group meeting to discuss the joint ministerial statement. The meeting also voted to: n begin a more radical campaign to oppose and obstruct the Coffs Coast Motorway; n commence a legal course of action against what they see as deficiencies in the planning process; n develop a political campaign against the state Labor Party and federal Coalition; and n email Mr Roozendaal and Mr Lloyd to voice concerns over what residents see as misleading statements including that the 'route had been settled', circumventing an effective Environmental Impact Assessment. Technical officer for WAR and BAN, Mr Steve Moody, said in announcing the proposed motorway between Sapphire and Woolgoolga, the ministers failed to mention the disruption to the coastal settlements of Sapphire, Moonee, Heritage Park, Emerald Beach and Sandy Beach. "This will have a major negative impact on the environmental, agricultural and scenic assets of these areas," Mr Moody said. "There is no excuse for Mr Roozendaal not to be aware of the community position following a meeting with him on March 30 this year arranged by local member Andrew Fraser. "The current planning strategy also fails to take account of the Parliamentary Inquiry into the planning process."