At yesterday’s Clarence Valley Council (CVC) meeting, councillors are likely to have kicked the Yamba bypass ‘can’ a little further down the road.
The development phase of the project comes with an estimated $10m price tag, however, the cost of construction is unknown – further progress will be reliant on state and/or federal government funding.
The concept has long been on CVC’s agenda, and on the former Maclean shire council’s, too.
Yamba resident, Wendy Bartlett, summed up the views of many Yamba, Wooloweyah and Angourie residents when she wrote in an August 2019 letter to the editor, “The council has had 30 to 50 years to plan and develop this road; how much longer do they need?”
In fact, surveying of the route took place in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
In 2012, councillors resolved to engage “qualified consultants … to undertake a flora and fauna study and review of environmental effects on the section of proposed bypass between Angourie Road and Coldstream Street, plus a necessary special impact statement and the results be reported back to Council”.
However, the introduction of the NSW Bio-Diversity Conservation Legislation in 2016 meant that the completed “preliminary ecological studies … will need to be re-assessed”, CVC told the Independent in October 2019.
At the October 2019 CVC meeting, councillors unanimously agreed to allocate “up to $150,000, to be equally funded from Section 7.11 and recurrent funds, to undertake a high-level feasibility assessment for a bypass of Yamba along the reserved corridor”.
The feasibility assessment, the 2019 report to council stated, proposed undertaking a “strategic estimate of construction costs, a preliminary traffic impact assessment and a preliminary environmental assessment”, which would include “ecological studies and vegetation offset obligations [which staff estimated “would put the costs in excess of $2m”] and potential impacts on the local flood regime, and potential noise impacts”.
At yesterday’s CVC meeting (before the Independent went to press), staff sought a “council resolution to guide the ongoing development and future delivery of the proposed Yamba bypass”, recommending that CVC “engages a professional services contractor to prepare a preliminary environmental assessment [PEA] to identify key project risks, assist with scoping a future environmental impact assessment and to determine the planning pathway, utilising funds (up to $150,000) allocated [in] October 2019”.
Since the 2019 decision, CVC staff “have undertaken a high-level review of available information for the approximately 4km long Yamba bypass, including a review of biodiversity reports, aerial photography, drone footage and other projects of similar scale in northern NSW”.
“The key outcome of the review is that CVC will require federal and/or state government assistance to complete the development and the delivery of the project due to the likely costs involved,” staff advised councillors.
CVC staff’s review, which is not a public document, concluded that the PEA will assist staff to “better understand environmental risks around flooding, drainage and groundwater, biodiversity, and road traffic noise” within the bypass corridor.
“The PEA will also assist with scoping the future detailed environmental impact assessment and would determine the planning pathway under which the project would be assessed,” staff advised councillors.
“It is likely that any request for federal or state government assistance to further develop and deliver the project will require a business case informed by detailed traffic modelling, project estimating and economic appraisal.
“It is expected that a budget of approximately $10M (subject to confirmation) would be required to complete the project development phase of the project.
“A construction estimate based on the concept design would also be prepared as part of this phase of work.
“Council will require the assistance of Transport for NSW to complete the remainder of the development phase and deliver the project beyond the PEA.
“In addition to the Yamba Bypass project, options to improve the flood immunity of Yamba Road in response to the February and March 2022 floods are currently being considered.”