Not good enough


WITH placards displaying phrases such as 'RTA process is a farce', 'Go away highway' and 'No way RTA', it was obvious the protesters at yesterday's value management workshop in Yamba were unimpressed with the RTA's handling of the Pacific Highway upgrade.

Twenty five demonstrators from various Clarence Valley protest groups, Clarence residents and residents of Tabulam and Broadwater, were protesting against the perceived lack of environmental representatives at the workshop.

They were calling for a member of the North Coast Environment Council (NCEC) to be appointed to the delegation which, over the next two days, will come up with a preferred route option for the highway upgrade from Wells Crossing to Iluka.

The protesters assembled at the Angourie Road sports fields, before marching to the Angourie Rainforest Resort, where the workshop is being held, waving their banners and displaying their placards.

But it was somewhat of an anti-climax on their arrival, as the workshop members were out touring parts of the Valley possibly affected by a new highway.

The delegation returned an hour-and-a-half later, and the protest sprung back to life.

The catch-cry of 'VMW ? voters, money, wasted' was directed towards the delegates as they left the bus, who returned the call with wry smiles and disinterested looks.

Speaking before the delegates arrived, NCEC committee member John Edwards said the demonstrators felt environmental concerns had not been addressed.

"We aim to highlight what we believe to be a systematic campaign to starve the public of information and (also) protest the RTA's refusal to allow an environmental advocate to attend," he said.

Mr Edwards said the NCEC was also concerned with the ecological reports released by the RTA, and the amount of time it took for them to do so.

"The NCEC had requested copies of the ecologists draft working papers ... (but) the RTA, rather than co-operate, insisted that the documents be obtained through Freedom of Information," he said.

"(That) process took months, and the papers finally arrived just three days before the first VMW."

An RTA spokesperson said five representatives from environmental groups were invited to attend the VMW and they would brief a representative from the NCEC at the end of the workshop.

The protestors enjoyed a minor success when RTA members agreed to meet with them briefly yesterday, but Mr Edwards said he thought a decision on the highway had already been made.

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