Farmers fear land loss

By Nerida Blok

Pan Brook agrees the Pacific Highway needs to be safer, but says plans to make it the size of a Los Angeles freeway through prime North Coast agricultural land is not the answer.

The St Helena producer of value-added macadamia products is part of a group of farmers from St Helena through to Tintenbar con- cerned over NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) plans to upgrade the Pacific Highway into a dual carriageway, for 17km between Tintenbar and Ewingsdale.

While no definite route has been confirmed, a study area shows the project will link the northern end of the proposed Ballina bypass to the existing dual carriageway at Ewingsdale.

Mrs Brook said the group of farmers agreed the highway should be made safer.

"But what the RTA is proposing is not just an upgrade, it's almost a total rebuild, with three lanes in each direction," she said.

"Wherever it goes people will be affected, but as value-adders in the area our concern is there's limited amount of agricultural land left in the area and once it's gone, it's gone."

An RTA spokesperson said no route had been confirmed as yet.

"This is its infancy stage where we're still in consultation," she said.

Community consultation and development of the preferred design option started last November, with the program of investigations expected to take 12 months.

For more information on the upgrade go to www.rta.nsw.gov.au and follow the links.



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