Councillor Sally Townley near one of the many koala food trees which have been planted at Roberts Hill.
Councillor Sally Townley near one of the many koala food trees which have been planted at Roberts Hill. Jon Cassell

Cuttings should be opposed on the bypass

A lookout at Roberts Hill makes no sense according to Coffs Harbour City Councillor Dr Sally Townley.

She has also warned that any move by the government to remove tunnels in favour of cuttings should be vigorously opposed by residents of Coffs Harbour.

Cr Townley, who is also the Greens Candidate for the federal seat of Cowper, was shocked to hear of the suggestion put forward by businessman Neil Manson who is calling on the State Government and Roads and Maritime Services to consider building a lookout above the city at Roberts Hill on the preferred bypass route.

She is shocked at the suggestion that a lookout at Roberts Hill should be built in conjunction with the Coffs Harbour Bypass and points out this publicly owned land has been the site of careful restoration work over many years and is a mapped koala corridor.

"Council has spent significant sums from its Environmental Levy on Roberts Hill, and the area has received State government funding also. To build an additional road through this site makes no sense."

Cr Townley said that the environmental impact of the bypass itself is potentially enormous, particularly if the government reneges on the tunnels that are currently shown in the concept plans.

"Three areas are shown as having potential tunnels, including one just west of Roberts Hill. Tunnels provide much better wildlife passage and reduce the noise and visual impact enormously. Any move by the government to remove tunnels in favour of cuttings should be vigorously opposed by residents of Coffs Harbour.

"Cuttings will mean thousands more residents adversely impacted by highway noise. Huge open rock faces will be seen from most of Coffs Harbour's western suburbs and the highway noise will rebound over West Coffs. This could be disastrous for our community. We have waited so long for this bypass, Coffs Harbour deserves the best, not the cheapest".

Dr Townley urges residents, particularly those living near the bypass footprint, to review the environmental statements and noise reports when they are released.

"Residents need to understand the potential impacts on their lives and their property values and demand the best possible outcome".

In response to The Advocate's question on the issue, a spokesperson issued this reply:

"A final decision has not yet been made on whether the new highway crosses major ridge lines through cuttings or tunnels. RMS is currently finalising the environmental impact statement for the Coffs Harbour bypass project. We expect to display it to the community before the end of the year."



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