Geoff Helisma |
Community action has prompted Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis to criticise Roads and Maritime Services’ (RMS) public consultation regarding the construction of a temporary asphalt batching plant at the corner of Iluka Road and the Pacific Highway.
“Roads and Maritime normally does community consultation pretty well, but this time they kind of dropped the ball, so it is back to the drawing board,” Mr Gulaptis said in a media release, following a public meeting held at Woombah Park on Saturday July 14.
Mr Gulaptis said the RMS has agreed “to reinvestigate three previous locations and … other possible locations”.
“Information from the review and details of the preferred site will be provided to the community for further feedback, with further community sessions around the end of this month and another extension of community consultation until Friday 10 August,” he said.
Despite this second time-extension for community consultation, nearby residents remain sceptical about RMS providing adequate information and the plant’s location being moved elsewhere.
Kerry Wilsmore, president of the Woombah Residents Association, said: “Extending of the consultation period … is meaningless until the Pacific Complete team does its proper job and compiles all relevant data.
“Then we can start a community consultation process.”
On the perceived lack of communication and the outcome of the public meeting, he said “many thought it was a tick the box exercise”, and that the “public consultation should be extended to all communities that travel the Iluka Road/Pacific Highway intersection”.
RMS initially advised that the preferred site would generate up to 500 truck movements and 100 car movements per day.
At the public meeting, attendees were told that a “set truck exit” would be incorporated; Mr Wilsmore acknowledged this would “slightly ameliorate the problem”.
He pointed out that the residents association had conducted a traffic survey that revealed “240 to 300 car movements an hour enter or exit Iluka Road”.
“A short 15-minute stand on the Pacific Highway had cars passing every three to four seconds,” he said.
“Then add 500 truck movements and 100 car movements and that adds one more truck a minute.
“It’s just an accident waiting to happen.”
Mr Wilsmore called for the provision of accurate traffic data to the community.
His association’s highest level of scepticism is connected with the preferred site, which he says has been “prepared before consultation … for not only a storage area for materials but also for the proposed plant”.
“The solution: do a proper evaluation on all sites and include Jackybulbin [quarry] in the process,” he said.
“Then inform Clarence Valley Council and the communities involved of [the] findings.”
Mr Wilsmore also called for more consideration of environmental and flora and fauna issues within 400 metres of the preferred site, as well as noise and smell issues that could potentially affect residents within one kilometre of the site.
Feedback on the proposal can be submitted by email to [email protected], or by post to: Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade, Att: Communications, PO Box 546 Grafton, NSW 2460, or by calling 1800 778 900 (toll free).
According to Mr Gulaptis’s media release, more information on the proposal is available at rms.nsw.gov.au/W2B.
However, the website had not been updated as the Independent went to press on Monday July 26.
When the Independent contacted the RMS media unit and asked if a media release had been prepared in response to Mr Gulaptis’s, it was advised to refer the enquiry to the Clarence MP’s office.