| Geoff Helisma
Roads and Maritime Services says it has “pressed the pause button” on where it will locate temporary asphalt plants to service construction of “the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway, upgrade following community feedback”.
The “pause” is a result of community action, particularly the Woombah Residents Association.
“Our project team will take more time to consider the current proposal for a temporary asphalt batch plant near Woombah and we thank the community for their feedback,” a spokesperson said in a July 31 media release.
“The project team is investigating all possible locations for temporary asphalt batch plants close to the [highway] alignment.
“While the project team reviews the asphalt supply strategy, they will meet with potentially impacted residents as possible sites are considered.
“…“We are working collaboratively with the paving contractors to identify all possible sites for temporary asphalt batch plants.
“About 170,000 tonnes of asphalt will be required to build the upgrade between Glenugie and Devils Pulpit over the next two years and the amount of asphalt needed between Tyndale and Iluka is more than 70 percent of the total required.
“This means a number temporary asphalt batch plants will be required in this area, close to the alignment.
“The possible sites will be considered against criteria including traffic, environment and community.
“This information will be used to update the asphalt supply strategy and will also consider safety, program and economics.”
Meanwhile, the Woombah Residents Association has issued a media release, too, which highlights the association’s perception that the proposed Woombah site is a danger to the Mororo Creek Nature Reserve.
The northern edge of the reserve (on the western side of the highway) is roughly in line with the southern side of the proposed site (on the eastern side of the highway).
“Petrochemicals such as diesel, tar, sulphur and crude oil entering the adjacent Mororo Creek Nature Reserve and its tributaries would be a disaster,” the association’s president, Kerry Willsmore, writes.
“The containment ponds already built nearly overflowed after just a brief winter shower.
“Is this the reason Pacific Complete commenced the groundwork to elevate the pad for the plant above the 1/100 year flood level over six months ago?”
The reserve is managed in accordance with the National Parks and Wildlife Act and its 2012 plan of management (including the nearby Chatsworth Hill State Conservation Area), which states that the reserve conserves “areas of endangered swamp sclerophyll forest, coastal saltmarsh, subtropical coastal floodplain forest and swamp oak floodplain forest” and is a “part of a wildlife corridor between the coastal floodplains and forested hinterland [that contains] the vulnerable bordered guinea flower, and four threatened animal species, including the rufous bettong.”
The Independent asked for a response (not long before the paper’s editorial deadline) to the preferred site’s proximity to the nature reserve – the media unit advised it would respond in due course.