Geoff Helisma |
Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) has extended the consultation period for the proposed construction of a temporary asphalt batch plant at Woombah to Wednesday July 18.
Submissions closed on July 4, however, “given the issues being raised by the local community, Roads and Maritime is extending the period for community feedback on the proposal by two weeks”, an RMS media statement said.
“Roads and Maritime is proposing the construction of a temporary batch plant at Woombah to make asphalt for the upgrade between Maclean and Devils Pulpit,” the answer to the Independent’s enquiry states.
“The proposal is not approved and is currently undergoing environmental assessment including the assessment of any potential impacts such as traffic, noise and air quality.
“Community feedback will be one of a number of considerations in deciding the location and design of the plant.”
However, local residents have provided photographs that indicate that the site has been prepared for the plant’s construction.
A media release, following a meeting of the Woombah Residents Association over the weekend, alleges that the proposed asphalt batching plant has “been thrust upon the community under the NSW Government Significant Infrastructure laws … with no community consultation, no evidence of environmental impact studies and no consideration for locals already struggling with dangerous traffic conditions”.
“Indeed, the chief bureaucrat responsible for the Pacific Highway upgrade, Bob Higgins from RMS, admitted during an interview with local ABC last week that asphalt plants emit a very bad smell,” the media release alleges.
“Nor has there been a fire containment plan provided to locals, who understand the threat of bushfire and know that an asphalt fire is an even greater threat.”
The RMS’s notification flyer on the proposal points out that the plant will generate 500 truck movements and 100 staff car movements onto the new section of Iluka Road (runs parallel to the highway) each day “at its peak”, from 7am to 6pm Monday to Friday and from 8am to 5pm on Saturdays.
The plant will also “operate at night” at certain times, however, “residents would be notified in advance of this taking place”, the flyer states.
The residents association’s president, Kerry Wilsmore, said dangers posed by additional traffic were of great concern for many residents.
“We completed a survey in 2017/18 of traffic movement through Woombah,” he said.
“There were 240 to 300 cars per hour (outside of school holidays) on average.”
The media release put it this way: “This outrageous amount of additional traffic will be turning on and off the Pacific Highway in an 80km per hour zone, at an intersection with restricted visibility.”
Meanwhile, the RMS is holding a drop in session today, July 11 from 5pm to 7pm, “for the community to become better informed about the proposal, [to] explain how the impacts will be mitigated and answer any questions about the operation of the temporary plant”.
The session is being held at a nearby compound: Gate 95.1. Pacific Highway, Mororo (via new Lewis Lane and take first right into compound).