Angry residents fight highway plan

Published 2:00pm 6 December 2023

Angry residents fight highway plan
Words by Nick Crockford

Pictured: Protest organisers Jason Smith, Trevor Lewis and Janine Aitken collecting signatures this week.

Residents have launched a campaign to fight plans for an entire section of the 50km Bruce Highway Western Alternative (BHWA).

Householders in the Elimbah area were told on Friday of the proposed route for the BHWA Stage 4, from Beerburrum to Moodlu.

It would run from Steve Irwin Way at Beerburrum, with two options through Elimbah, down to Moodlu and link with Stage 1, which is already gazetted.

Public Information sessions start this weekend. Bookings required. Click here for details and to register.

However, Janine Aitken, one of the campaign leaders, said Transport and Main Roads’ (TMR) plan was a “stunning surprise” and both options were “ridiculous”.

The ‘Objection to North Brisbane Bruce Highway Western Alternative – Stage 4’ Facebook page was opened, a petition started and legal challenges are being investigated.

The proposed route of BHWA Stage 4

A public meeting will be held on Thursday (December 7), at Elimbah Showgrounds, 5.30pm and campaigners hope to meet with TMR Minister Mark Bailey’s office next week.

“It is a huge problem,” Janine said. “TMR just haven’t consulted and decided to drop this on us at Christmas.

“The discussions we were having about six weeks ago …. this was not coming near our doorsteps. It was going well west.”

Moreton Daily has contacted TMR for comment.

“All you are doing is moving the existing congestion 6km up the road to Beerburrum. This is not what was discussed," Janine said.

“We were led to believe there would be a duplicate highway all the way to the Sunny Coast - and well west if it were to happen at all.

“(It will) impact people, their lifestyle, the environment, including historical backgrounds from all our suburbs, botanical issues …. everything.”

The northern section of the proposed route for Stage 4 of the BHWA

Fellow campaigner Jason Smith said residents received a letter on December 1 with a public consultation cut-off date of January 22, 2024.

“With a five-to-six week shutdown of courts, parliament and everything else, it leaves less than 20 business days to get together, adequately strategise and form a response.

“Surely that’s got to really stink from a pub-test perspective?

“How about proper community engagement. Get that extended to say February 22, after parliament resumes?”

Mr Smith believes the proposed route “goes through microclimates unique to that area, especially the small mountain at Moodlu” and impact “nearly 100 acres of prime agricultural land”.

“Storms and rain clouds move around that mountain providing a lot of rain to the farmland," he said.

“You take out that hill and you’re starting to change how everything operates around that microclimate.”

Proposed route of the southern section of the BHWA

He believes the route will also affect platypus in Lagoon Creek, koalas around Williams Rd and wildlife spotted “all the way" up Whittington Rd.

“When you start to stack up the impacts here, we’re not just talking about roads over homes – its impact to berry farms, impact to primary production, impact to housing, individuals, individuals’ retirement plans," he said.

“Why aren’t we using more crown land?”

Janine Aitken insisted campaigners were not “anti-development” but “this thing was originally somewhere well west - something that could work, not cost people land, houses - and took people to the Sunshine Coast".

Jason Smith agreed: “If you look at Australian history, has the average Australian ever rolled over when it comes to a hard fight? We’re not going to back down”.

Angry residents fight highway plan
Campaign co-ordinators Jason Smith, Janine Aitken and Trevor Lewis.

Stage Four information sessions are being held in Wamuran (December 9 and January 16) and Beerburrum (December 12).

The 45-minute sessions will outline corridor options and give those present a chance to meet the project team.

Registration is required. Some sessions are already booked out. Click here for more information.

Feedback can be given on the Transport and Main Roads’ online consultation page, by phone on 1800 955 799 and by email to [email protected].

It can also be submitted in writing and posted to: Bruce Highway Western Alternative, Department of Transport and Main Roads, PO Box 1600, Maroochydore, QLD 4558.

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