Byron Bay Bypass

The Byron Bay Bypass is a major infrastructure project that has been in the planning for over 30 years. It is now fully funded by the NSW Government ($20 million including funding from Growing Local Economies) and $4 million from Byron Shire Council.

 The Bypass will:

  • improve connectivity and traffic flow between the north and south of Byron Bay
  • provide an alternative route that avoids the town centre
  • reduce the number of cars in the town centre daily by an estimated 30 percent
  • prioritise pedestrians over cars in the town centre (a desire strong expressed by our community throughout our Masterplan process).

The Bypass has been approved following a rigorous environmental and planning process. Find out more about the approvals in place at the link below.

Bypass project approvals

 Byron Bypass Construction Stages

 

 

 The Byron Bay Bypass is proudly funded by the NSW State Government, including a $9.5 million Growing Local Economies grant and $10.5 million approved by the State Government in 2014. A $4 million contribution is being made by Byron Shire Council. The total project value is $24 million.

 

Council acknowledges that the bypass is not the silver bullet solution to Byron’s traffic woes. It is however a part of the solution and will allow Council to do more in the town centre to make it pedestrian friendly. In addition to the planned bypass we’ve built two new roundabouts on Ewingsdale Rd in recent years and we’re now working with the RMS to find a suitable option to ease congestion at the existing hospital roundabout close to the Pacific Highway.

 

Council supports the multi modal use of our existing rail corridor and has just funded a feasibility study that has shown a light rail service and cycleway could be developed on the disused alignment.

Using the rail corridor to build a road would rule out the option of delivering a rail service in the future. It is Council’s priority to provide a shuttle service over a road, particularly when another road route option exists nearby exists approximately 30 metres away.

Using the rail corridor to build a road would rule out the option of delivering a rail service in the future. It is Council’s priority to provide a shuttle service over a road, particularly when another road route option exists nearby exists approximately 30 metres away.

Not only that – the State Government owns the existing rail corridor and even if there was sufficient space for rail services, a cycleway and a road, it would require an Act of Parliament to close this section of the rail line and build a road in close proximity. Council chose to build the road on land it owns and controls.

There have been claims that the rail corridor option would have less impact on vegetation and habitat. However, this route would still impact a similar portion of wetland as the chosen route. The difference in clearing for both options is minimal.

Byron Bay is essentially a small town but its popularity as a tourist destination, employment centre and place of residence in recent years has seen a significant increase in traffic.  Over 20,000 vehicles a day travel along Ewingsdale Road, the main entrance to Byron Bay.  In 2017 there were 2.1 million visitors to the Byron Shire with the majority of them visiting Byron Bay.  1.1 million of those visitors were day trippers.

The existing road network within the township of Byron Bay has little to no spare capacity and is restricted by the rail line, which runs parallel to Jonson Street. All through-traffic is forced to travel via the Byron Bay town centre over the single rail crossing on Lawson Street. The infrastructure of Lawson and Jonson Streets can't support the current and future traffic volumes, with heavy congestion experienced during peak periods. Heavy pedestrian and cyclist traffic and crossing of the road network also contributes to congestion issues.

One of the main things to come out of the Byron Bay Town Centre Masterplan, which was completed in 2016, was the community's desire to get cars out of the CBD and make it more pedestrian-friendly. The Byron Bay Bypass will take traffic out of the town centre by providing an alternative route for people wanting to avoid the CBD.

Construction of the bypass will impact 1.56 ha of coastal wetland rest (0.39% of the total wetland area in the central Byron Bay).  Council has two approved Biobanking agreements in place issued by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. As part of these agreements, we’re improving and conserving an additional 44.5 ha of similar vegetation in the area.

wetland impact mpa.jpg

 

The Chief Executive Officer of the OEH approved the Biobanking statement for the development of the Byron Bay bypass project through 1.56 ha of wetland based on the following reasons:

·         Vegetation in the directly impacted wetland area (1.05 ha) is degraded as it occurs along an existing (road) edge and is impacted by weed invasion, previous clearing and other human disturbances.

·         The area is considered to have poor long-term viability due to the small size of the vegetation patch and its proximity to a caravan park, rail line and existing urban development.

·         A number of highly invasive weed species are present in the impact area.

·         In terms of regional conservation value impact, the cleared area would represent only a 0.0076 percent decrease in low-land paperbark swamp forest vegetation in the subregion including Southern Coastal Lowlands, Clarence Lowlands and Richmond Tweed.

Council gained two approved Biobanking agreements issued by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. The agreements guarantee the improvement and conservation of an additional 44.5 ha of similar vegetation in the Byron Bay area. The sites chosen for these agreements to date are Wallum Place Byron Bay and Lilli Pilli. The sites were chosen as they have similar habitat to that which will be impacted for the bypass construction.

 

The Bypass Biobanking statement also includes a Fauna Management Protocol. Prior to construction in the impact zone, accredited ecologists and wildlife specialists will be conducting pre-clearing surveys. There will be searches for the Mitchell’s Rainforest snail, Black Bittern and Pale-vented Bush Hen and other threatened species. All species present will be relocated to suitable habitat prior to clearing. Hollow-bearing trees and vegetation bearing wildlife that can be salvaged will be placed in adjoining retained vegetation. Wherever possible, wildlife will not be handled during construction. Contractors would only handle wildlife in an emergency situation. An appointed ecologist and wildlife specialist will be using best practice methods to ensure wildlife safely leave the area.

The objectives of the town centre bypass are to:

  • improve traffic efficiency on the road network within Byron Bay particularly at the Lawson and Jonson Street roundabouts
  • support future growth associated with predicted land use changes in the Byron Shire
  • maximise road safety benefits by improving pedestrian connectivity and reducing conflicts
  • enhance in-town amenity

2014

Council resolved and announced the preferred route for the Byron Bay Bypass along Butler Street.

GHD was engaged to develop the concept design, undertake a detailed environmental impact study and undertake the State Government Biobanking process for the preferred bypass route.

September 2014

State Government commits $10.5 million funding to the Byron Bay Bypass project.

Early 2015

The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) provided Council with the Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs) for the framework for the development of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The EIS for the preferred route on Butler Street commenced. 

Community displays and meetings were held seeking input from the community.

Mid 2015

A Development Application (DA) and the EIS was submitted by GHD to Council for assessment.

Biobanking Statement was requested by GHD from OEH.

Late 2015

DA and EIS were withdrawn pending approval of the Biobanking Statement. 

Biobanking Statement was approved by OEH. 

2016

Council submitted a revised DA and EIS for the Byron Bay Bypass in January 2016.

The project was approved by the Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel (NRJPP) on 22 June 2016.

In August 2016, The Butler Street Community Network announced it would appeal the JRPP's approval of the bypass.

At the end of 2016 Council and the Butler Street Community Network went to conciliation, as required by court, but no agreement was reached.

GHD completed detailed design of the bypass.

June 2017

Land and Environment Court Ruling in favour of Council for approval of the Byron Bay Bypass.

2018

Council’s project team continues preparation for project implementation, pending additional funding for construction. 

November 2018

Biobanking Agreement approved by OEH.

December 2018

Additional funding announced by the NSW State Government under the Growing Local Economies grant program.

There are times that development needs to be done in areas that are of environmental importance and this needs to be taken into account by developers.  In some cases it is impossible to avoid a development’s impact on the local environment and in certain situations, Councils and developers need to work out a way to offset the environmental impacts.  This is the case with the route for the Byron Bay bypass.  Biobanking is one way of doing this.

In simple terms Biobanking is a process where the impact of a development, or works, on the habitat of an area, is offset by the protection and enhancement of a larger area of habitat in a different location. 

A BioBanking agreement specifies the management actions that are required to be undertaken on BioBank sites in order for credits to be created. The Act further provides for the BioBanking agreement to specify the number and class of biodiversity credits that may be created, and the timing of creation. This is determined in accordance with the BioBanking Assessment Methodology.  A BioBanking agreement is attached to the land title and includes provisions that require current and future landowners to:

• carry out management actions to improve biodiversity values on the site;

• not undertake activities that would reduce the biodiversity values of the site.

A BioBanking site has to already have some environmental qualities to meet the requirements for an agreement. These qualities relate to the two classes of biodiversity credits – ecosystem credits and species credits. Both classes of credits can be created at a BioBank site. A BioBank site must already contain native vegetation or threatened species, populations, ecological communities or their habitats.  The agreement is both to conserve and improve the site. 

In the case of Byron Shire Council, we can agree to protect another area within the Shire, or we can buy biobanking credits for the protection of an area in another part of NSW or even Australia.


The route of the Byron Bay bypass includes an area of wetland. Council has an obligation to comply with the relevant law on environmental protection and consider the impacts on the wetland.  To meet Council’s obligations under NSW environmental law Council opted to undertake a Biobanking Agreement.  We have found two sites in the Shire that have similar habitat to that which will be affected by the construction of the bypass and we have undertaken that this area will be protected in the future. 

There are two components to Council’s BioBanking Agreement for the construction of the Byron Bay bypass :

1.      BioBanking Statement that accompanies a development application and confirms the number and type of credits and any on-site measures required for the development to improve or maintain biodiversity values. Council submitted a Biobanking Statement endorsed by the Director General of the Office of  Environment and Heritage with the Bypass development application.  The link to Council’s Biobanking Statement with OEH is here: https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/bimsprapp/StatementDetails.aspx?ID=19 (pdf copy attached)

2.      A BioBanking agreement is a conservation covenant that is attached to the land title. It runs with the land, and generally has effect in perpetuity so as to offset the impacts of development on biodiversity values.  Land the subject of an agreement generates the credits required for the statement.  Council has two Biobanking Agreement sites:

a.       Biobanking Agreement 348 for the Wallum Place site

b.      Biobanking Agreement 352 for the Lilli Pilli site

These can be found here https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/bimsprapp/biobankingpr.aspx


The Biobanking Statement for the Bypass has been approved by the CEO of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. 

Council is required to retire the credits at its two Biobanking agreement sites. 

The Biobanking Statement addressed all threatened species impacts that were raised in the Land and Environment Court Case and the court was satisfied that these impacts were offset by the statement and agreement. 

 

The bypass will improve connectivity and traffic flow between the north and south of Byron Bay. It will provide an alternative route for traffic that avoids the town centre. It is estimated it will reduce the number of cars in town on any given day by 30 percent. The project supports the desires express by the Byron community during the town Masterplan process, which was clearly that Byron should prioritise pedestrians over cars in the town centre. 

 

In early 2019, a Stakeholder Group was established for the bypass prior to the commencement of construction.

Stakeholders from the following organisations and groups are invited:

  • The Park Management Committee for Cumbebin Swamp Nature Reserve
  • Roads and Maritime Services
  • Office of Environment and Heritage
  • Transport for NSW
  • The Bundjalung of Byron Bay Aboriginal Corp (Arakwal)
  • Adjoining Landowners to the Byron Bypass Route (maximum of three representatives)
  • Byron Aged Care Facility
  • Council Officers
  • Representatives from the Community and Farmers Market
  • The Chamber of Commerce

The group is provided with information about the work program for the bypass, traffic management, and changed traffic conditions, and to resolve any unforeseen issues as they arise during the construction phase of the development.

The group is chaired by Byron Shire Council's Project Manager for the Byron Bypass and meets one month prior to work commencing and every second month during the construction period.