Byron bypass progress slows to a snail’s pace
THE rare Mitchell’s Rainforest Snail species living in a section of a Byron Bay swamp has brought a halt to plans for the Butler Street Bypass.
The Byron Shire Council has been informed by the Department of Environment and Energy (DoEE) a decision over whether the proposed works for Stage 2 of the bypass project can go ahead will be delayed until mid-December due to legal reasons.
The referral is also assessing whether a small section of vegetation proposed for removal as part of Stage 1 near Burns Street, Byron Bay, should be allowed.
Stage 1 and 2 was questioned by the council after some Greens members raised concerns over the survival of the snail if the project went ahead.
“Council engaged expert snail consultant, Dr Stephanie Clark to review the council’s submission relating to the Mitchell’s Rainforest Snail and the assessment of (its) significance, likely habitat area for the local population and the pre-clearing protocol for the snail,” councillor Michael Lyon said.
“Throughout this process and during another meeting with (the department), Dr Clark indicated that her opinion is such that there are far more than 5000 individuals remaining.
“This is based on her expert knowledge of the species, the more recent work and findings and the likely habitat distribution in the Northern Rivers.”
Cr Lyon said the council’s referral estimates the habitat for the local population of the Mitchell’s Rainforest Snail being approximately 216ha within and beyond the bypass area south to Lilli Pilli and west to Skinners Shoot Road.
“The bypass directly removing 1.5ha of this area means that the bypass would be responsible for the removal of 0.7 per cent of the local habitat area,” he said.
“What this does is clear up some of the misconceptions around the prospects for the (snail), which are actually pretty good.
“In fact, given the compensatory works and the potential of the Lilli Pilli area, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the bypass will actually improve the lot of the (snail).
“This is important because we have said all along that we will ensure that we more than make up for the loss of habitat and ensure that the environment is protected and enhanced.”