Pacific Highway red light

SWAN CREEK has issued a red light on the orange option for an upgrade of the Pacific Highway in the Clarence Valley.

Major flooding problems drew most opposition at a meeting on Thursday, called to give thought to the orange option.

More than 100 concerned people attended.

Meeting chairman Trevor Want, of Ulmarra, said the attendance figure reflected concern in the local community.

The meeting had focussed strictly on issues relating to the orange option and those affected.

Many of those attending had spent their lives in the Valley and on the floodplains. They had an invaluable collective knowledge of the floodplain, its attributes and the consequences of flooding.

Of the issues, flooding was a prime consideration. There were strong views that raised road embankments of typically two-three metres and up to six metres through 39 kilometres of flood plain was a reckless act with potentially dire consequences.

The construction would seriously hamper flood mitigation by acting as a levee ? compressing flood waters within the main river channel.

Mr Want said this would mean higher flood levels at Grafton and downstream and was an issue that could only be ignored at our peril.

Apart from destroying the integrity of the floodplain and its nature-based attributes, concerns included:

Loss of all high land between Swan Creek and Tyndale.

Five of the 10 Clarence dairies included in the motorway.

Loss of some of the best productive floodplain lands in the Clarence Valley ? loss of flood reserves for stock.

nImpact on cane farms ? high number of people affected, both directly and by noise.

Questions of reliability of traffic volume forecasts for various options.

Loss of heritage buildings, including settlers buildings from original settlement.

Mr Want said that in terms of meeting the stated project objectives and design principles, the meeting was of the view the orange option performed poorly in terms of its $1.2 to $1.3 billion cost.

It had potentially high long-term maintenance costs because of unstable soils and underground water systems.

Mr Want said he was pleased with the professional way speakers conducted themselves and presented their issues at the forum.

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