The rare Mitchell's Rainforest Snail. P
The rare Mitchell's Rainforest Snail. P John Waddell

Could a snail stop work on controversial bypass?

PROTECTING rare snails is amongst one of the reasons cited for referring the next stage of the Byron Bay bypass to a government agency for assessment.

Byron Shire Council has submitted documentation to the Department of Environment and Energy to refer the Byron Bay bypass project for assessment under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC).

The referral relates largely to works proposed for Stage 2 of the project which is yet to commence and a small section of vegetation proposed for removal as part of Stage 1 near Burns Street, Byron Bay.

Map of the Byron Bay bypass.
Map of the Byron Bay bypass. Byron Shire Counil

"The objective of the referral is to determine whether the removal of vegetation and road construction in these areas will have a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance," director of infrastructure Phil Holloway said.

"It is important to note that the works in progress are not required to be included in this referral.

"No works have or will occur in the areas being referred until council has a response from the Department of Environment and Energy," he said.

"The referral documentation examines potential direct and indirect impacts of the project, and whether or not these potential impacts would significantly affect any matters of national environmental significance.

"There are a number of species being assessed that have potential to occur in the construction area including the Mitchell's Rainforest Snail.

"The referral sets out in detail the project's extensive preclearing protocols and plans for the construction of a fauna underpass to allow for connectivity between existing Mitchell's Rainforest Snail habitat to the east and west of the proposed bypass site," Mr Holloway said.

The route of Byron Bay's new CBD bypass.
The route of Byron Bay's new CBD bypass. Rebecca Lollback

Under the EPBC Act, a decision regarding a referral is to be made within 20 business days from the date it is received by the minister.

The council is now awaiting the outcome of the referral. Once advised, the council will publish more details on its website, including any additional supporting documentation provided by the department.