Hundreds at the meeting with RMA regional manager John Alexander, Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser and Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker in the foreground.
Hundreds at the meeting with RMA regional manager John Alexander, Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser and Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker in the foreground. Janine Watson

Hundreds pack PCYC in opposition to 'bypass'

HUNDREDS of people packed the PCYC on Thursday evening to voice their resounding opposition to the proposed Coffs Harbour bypass.

Many refuse to call it a bypass saying it's more like a 'ring road'.

The crowd was estimated to be 400 strong on what was a cold and rainy night.

State and Federal MPs Andrew Fraser and Luke Hartsuyker were there but NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey declined the invitation.

The majority of Coffs Harbour councillors were also there, along with candidates in the upcoming State and Federal elections.

One of the main organisers of the often fiery meeting, Rod McKelvey, warned people at the outset to "keep personalities and politics out of it".

He spoke of the need for the community to get the information they need to be able to provide appropriate feedback on the current concept plan.

"We have been told the EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) would be ready by Christmas so that means they would have all of those reports completed on noise, environment, cultural heritage and so on. Where are those reports? We need to see these reports so we can make an informed decision."

One of the first speakers was Nathan Brennan, CEO of the Coffs Harbour and District Local Aboriginal Land Council, who spoke of the cultural significance of the area to the west of the city where large cuttings (estimated to be 75m deep and 380 metres wide in some spots) are now proposed.

"These cuttings will have a significant impact on the Gumbaynggirr stories that come over the ridge line. We still practice these stories and they are part of our identity. We've already lost so much of this and it can't just be on the Aboriginal community to protect it," he said.

"We don't want to be in the way of progress but we want to protect our culture and heritage."

Speakers touched on the impact these cuttings would have on the koala population, with the crowd erupting in applause as Mr McKelvey stated: "There is a good chance they will become extinct in our lifetime. I don't want to be part of a town that wipes out a koala population."

"These cuttings would be hideous and we deserve better," he said.



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