PUSHING BACK: CEO of Coffs Harbour Local Aboriginal Land Council Nathan Brennan.
PUSHING BACK: CEO of Coffs Harbour Local Aboriginal Land Council Nathan Brennan. TREVOR VEALE

Aboriginal groups reject bypass heritage report

ABORIGINAL groups have rejected the cultural heritage assessment for the Coffs Harbour Bypass and are calling for a new one to be completed.

They have serious concerns about the methodology used to conduct the report saying it's just another case of ticking boxes and rushing things through.

Nathan Brennan is the CEO of the Coffs Harbour and District Local Aboriginal Land Council and one of the members of the Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPs), which provide a voice for the Gumbaynggirr Traditional Owners. He is calling on the Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) to conduct a new report.

"There's a fair bit of trickery going on and the process hasn't been transparent at all. They don't care, they're just rushing it through and ticking the boxes which is typical of the process across the board," he said.

"Our sites officers identified a number of potential archaeological deposits but this was ignored."

Mr Brennan said the draft report failed to include information on the cultural significance of the environment and cultural landscape such as waterholes, creeks, plants, bush medicines and animal species living in and surrounding the proposed corridor.

In order to achieve this he has asked that the Registered Aboriginal Parties be able to select their preferred archaeologist and that the new survey include all areas associated with the bypass, such as on and off ramps, parking areas, drainage and fauna fencing.

"Our ancestors travelled from the hinterland to the ocean and the proposed bypass, which now includes land bridges as opposed to tunnels, cuts a path straight through this area," Mr Brennan said.

He supports Coffs Harbour City Council's stance in advocating for tunnels, not large open cuttings, along the route.

"On a positive note, we agree with the current draft report which has a preference for tunnels over land bridges and cuttings, which we believe would severely impact and destroy culturally significant landscape and objects," Mr Brennan said.

"This corridor represents a significant part of our culture and we want to ensure that adequate time and care is taken to investigate and identify cultural heritage sites which may be impacted."