Local farmers, from left, David Kanaley, Ken Dorey, John Pick, Craig Simpson and Geoff Dorey.
Local farmers, from left, David Kanaley, Ken Dorey, John Pick, Craig Simpson and Geoff Dorey.

Farmers face highway limbo

By DAWN COHEN

THE Pacific Highway may never go near Geoff Dorey's farm on Old Byron Road, but that's not stopping it costing him money and sleep.

Mr Dorey's macadamia farm is one of scores of properties added to the Roads and Traffic Authority's expanded study area for the Ewingsdale to Tintenbar upgrade of the highway.

Property owners now in the study area ? somewhere in which the upgraded highway will eventually go ? say they are unable to invest in their properties for fear the road will go through them.

In Mr Dorey's case, that means plans to plant about 35,000 macadamia trees over the next three years are now on hold indefinitely.

"Trees become more valuable each year they are in the ground. We will lose about $1000 per acre for each year we can't plant," he said.

The change of plans is also causing grief at Ballina, where mayor Phil Silver said he feared it could interfere with the Ballina bypass.

The route for the bypass was settled in 2003 after 10 years' environmental and geotechnical work, leaving only the daunting task of convincing the State and Federal governments to commit the funds and build it.

Cr Silver said he could not allow that work to be lost.

The new study area extends about two kilometres into the bypass route.

If that changed all that work for that section of the bypass would have to begin again.

An RTA spokesperson was not available for comment, but in announcing the change the Government has previously said the community had asked during consultation meetings that the study area be expanded.

n RTA consultation meetings will be held tonight in the Bangalow A&I Hall from 6.30pm, and tomorrow in the Broken Head Hall from 6.30pm.



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