A public consultation group is set to be established to provide feedback on VicRoads’ proposed Beaufort bypass.
Pyrenees Shire mayor Michael O’Connor was nominated and accepted into a role in the VicRoads sanctioned group at a council meeting last week.
Cr O’Connor said it is essential that the proposed route, which could be established in a ‘corridor of interest’ to the north of the township, does not take traffic and visitors away from Beaufort.
The purpose of the party is to ensure the local interests in Beaufort are represented as VicRoads works through its Environment Effect Statement.
“My worst fear is that we wake up one day and bypass works have already started and we haven’t made sure that we’re prepared,” Cr O’Connor said.
“That’s one of the big things – how do you make sure the town doesn’t suffer?
“We’re talking with the state government to get some money to work through that aspect.
“It (the bypass) certainly has the potential (to take traffic from the township). But we’re aware of that potential.”
The item in last week’s agenda states that the group is likely be comprised of 12 participants.
Those nominated will represent affected groups, local businesses, local schools, service clubs, faith organisations, sporting clubs, two existing Western Highway duplication groups including an environment group and community consultation group, a council nominated chairperson (Cr O’Connor) and a registered indigenous party for the area.
Minister for Planning Richard Wynne decided last year that an Environment Effects Statement is required, given the bypass would include the construction of a dual carriageway, interchanges to connect the township of Beaufort to the Western Highway, several waterway crossings, an overpass of the Melbourne-Ararat rail line and and intersection treatments of local roads.
The reasons for Mr Wynne’s decision were documented in a public notice in July last year.
“The project has the potential to result in significant adverse effects on biodiversity, land uses and cultural heritage values,” it read.
“The opportunity to avoid or minimise significant adverse effects through alignment selection and mitigation requires further investigation via an integrated assessment of environmental effects, prior to decision-making on a final alignment.”
It is unknown when or if work on the Environment Effects Statement will be made, however, the VicRoads website said the process would take in excess of 18 months to complete.
VicRoads was unavailable for comment on Sunday.
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