STANDING TOGETHER: Peter Walsh, Marine and Layla Cotton, Marina Rockett, Cheryl Cooper, Brian Polack and Graham Stubington from the Coffs Bypass Action Group.
STANDING TOGETHER: Peter Walsh, Marine and Layla Cotton, Marina Rockett, Cheryl Cooper, Brian Polack and Graham Stubington from the Coffs Bypass Action Group. Rachel Vercoe

Action group gobsmacked at chamber's take on dangerous goods

IS Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce serious in preferring cuttings to tunnels for the sake of five to seven trucks a day? That's what the Coffs Bypass Action Group wants to know.

The group was responding to a letter by Coffs Chamber of Commerce's past president Paul Lubans and a recent column by president Martin Wells.

Paul Lubans wrote of the "howls of indignation from residents in a built-up area if they were told a road carrying dangerous goods would be built through them”.

The chamber column stated that removing these five to seven trucks would "invigorate and activate the CBD, making living in this city safer and healthier and to promote business and community opportunities”.

Action group co-communications chair Cheryl Cooper is gobsmacked: "So do neither have any care for the residents of West Coffs as that's exactly where they are sending those trucks - yes to a built-up residential area. Not only that but do they realise what cuttings mean to the whole of Coffs Harbour?”

She says the estimated fill needed for the Gatelys Rd and Shephards Lane cuttings equates to 2.5million cubic metres as opposed to 0.4 million cubic metres with tunnels.

"The cuttings will be 65m deep. I have stood where the Gatelys Rd cutting will be and I can see the jetty and Ocean Pde, which means they will see this huge cutting.”

"The piece of road that will connect through from Shephards to Gatelys cuttings will have a similar steepness to that of the Mooney Mooney section north of Gosford. Imagine the trucks using that.”

Ms Cooper says another thing missing from the chamber's argument is these five to seven vehicles will most likely be transiting the city during the night hours, so it is difficult to fathom how they will have any detrimental impact on the plan to reinvigorate and activate the CBD.

"The chamber should be aware of the RMS figures that show the daytime traffic through the CBD will not be greatly affected by the current bypass route as the majority is local. It will still be a major daytime traffic artery for local traffic. This will be the major obstacle the chamber will need to overcome, not these few additional trucks.”

She says lowering the road, which can only be achieved via tunnels means less noise, less pollution and less fuel used for the transport industry.

"All candidates at our recent State Candidates Forum supported allowing these extra vehicles to be directed through our town if it came to it. The local council supports it. Connell Wagner took the same position back in 2004 and 2008. The chamber stands alone on this one.”

Chair of CBAG Brian Polack says the chamber should keep in mind how important a sense of community is to local businesses.

"When one group within the community is asked to bear a heap of pain for the benefit of the greater community, a strong resilient community rallies around and supports them. So if the rest of us have to deal with a handful of dangerous goods trucks per day in order to allow a better bypass solution to be found then that is what we should do.”

Mr Polack says if the chamber wants to do its part for the customers of its members then it can turn its attention to the RMS and lobby them to change their regulation on dangerous goods in tunnels.

"As Nationals candidate Gurmesh Singh pointed out at our recent forum, this issue with restrictions in tunnels is an issue across NSW and it would be good to have it removed.”