HIGHWAY PLAN COMPO SHOCK
By JANE GARDNER
IF TERRY and Trisha Bleakley thought they had little hope of justice from the RTA before, they are in trouble now.
The Newrybar couple have just found out the Pacific Highway upgrade that will go 50m from their Broken Head Road property has been labelled 'critical infrastructure'.
This means when the trucks roll in to build the Ewingsdale to Tintenbar Highway, they have no legal right to compensation from the RTA.
Planning Minister Frank Sartor announced the decision last December, however it had slipped by unnoticed.
The State Government has the power to label any project as critical infrastructure to speed up the process by 'cutting out the red tape', such as detailed environmental assessments and noise testing.
Highway lobby group CARS spokesman Tony Gilding said many of the 500 residents from Tweed Heads to Grafton indirectly affected by the highway were totally unaware of the decision.
Consequently, thousands of people living on or near it can no longer go to court with complaints of noise levels, air or water quality.
A despondent Terry Bleakley said he could not believe the Government could make such a decision.
His property will plummet in value once the highway is built because of the noise and proximity to a major road.
"This is a big shock to us. We didn't realise it was on the cards," Mr Bleakley said.
"It has ruined even the slight chance there may have been that things could change.
"So we have given up hope."
Parts of the highway listed as critical infrastructure include Wells Crossing to Iluka Road, the Ilu- ka Road to Woodburn, Woodburn to Ballina, and Tintenbar to Ewingsdale.
Tony Gilding, is livid.
He is warning highwayaffected residents to be vigilant and says this latest news means they will need to 'prepare for one hell of a battle'.
He said new Pacific Highway upgrades did not have to pass noise standards or comply with the Clear Air or Clear Water or Fisheries acts.
"The only winners here are Sydney people who drive to Brisbane," Mr Gilding said.
"The rest of the North Coast are being asked to make sacrifices on behalf of the trucking industry and in favour of a super fast motorway."