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Local News Mullum High welcomes Principal Armstrong Mullumbimby High School’s Greg Armstrong has commenced his new role as principal seven weeks ago, and he says the response from the school community has been overwhelmingly positive. Greg says he spent much of his first week out in the playgrounds, talking to students, getting to know their names, asking about their views on school life, their likes and dislikes, their concerns and aspirations. He says, ‘This is a school with a very large and warm heart. I feel that everyone is ready for ongoing improvement and willing to do the hard work to ensure it is effective.’ Students asked if he was going to be strict. Greg replied: ‘Yes I am if it means ensuring our school is safe and every student is engaged in learning.’ In a rapidly changing world Greg says he’s determined to put students at the centre of every decision made in the school, teaching resilience, resourcefulness, collaboration, and self-regulation. ‘I have a vision for a school where student

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Greg Armstrong with students. Photo Simon Clarke, Mullum High photography teacher wellbeing and health are integral to all decisions and evidenced by strong student engagement in learning, sport, and extra-curricular activities. A school where the teaching and learning culture is highly valued by students, teachers and parents. ‘In my vision, teaching and learning is vibrant, dynamic, and relevant.’ Greg is no stranger to the area. He says he began

his teaching career at Kingscliff High School as a Japanese-language teacher, moving to Southern Cross School, and taking the role of co-principal at the new Ballina High School before beginning his position in Mullumbimby. With 33 years in public education, extensive experience in leadership, and a love of teaching and learning, Greg has developed a commitment and passion

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Improvements in the pipeline include new technology, upgrades to school facilities, open learning spaces to encourage collaborative learning, and increased professional learning support to enable all staff to achieve their goals.

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At the Court House Hotel Mullumbimby Access via drive-thru or via arcade off the main street Promotion dates: 7 – 13 August 2019

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Bypass Biodiversity Destruction Part 4

Former mayor Jan Barham queries State Government role The Byron Bypass will destroy a section of SEPP 14 wetland and will impact on the critically endangered Mitchell’s Rainforest Snail. A NSW assessment of the viability of this species identifies that it is unable to withstand further loss of habitat.

The BSC EIS 2016 reference to the rail corridor route doesn’t identify the previous finding of it as the preferred route (1998) when the current route was deemed too ecologically damaging.

Despite this, the bypass has been approved through a series of processes, including an environmental impact statement (EIS) and a biobanking application. It was approved by the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), the JRPP, and the Land and Environment Court.

Improve and maintain standard

But doubt has been raised by local ecologist Mr Milledge about the potential for a Nationally Critically Endangered Threatened Ecological Community (TEC), Lowland Rainforest, to occur in the bypass route. The applications for approval did not recognise the rainforest and didn’t survey in that area and therefore didn’t assess the impact or allow for rainforest offsets. However, a 2017 BSC map does identify this area as Subtropical Rainforest. A request was made for permission for an independent assessor to conduct a flora survey but Byron Council has refused, twice. When Council advised of its refusal it noted that OEH did not support the new survey either. This is strange as the suggestion for the survey was made by an OEH officer on a site inspection with David Milledge and me in June. The OEH has a core priority, enshrined in the Threatened Species Act, ‘to conserve threatened species, populations, and ecological communities of animals and plants’. For biobanking assessment, the OEH role involves consultation with applicants and, ‘this includes avoiding or minimising impacts through relocating or reconfiguring development’. When OEH was asked about consultation for relocation / reconfiguration of the route, they stated they supported the BSC route preference. In fact, they advised they weren’t aware of the previous ‘Preferred Route’ (1998) in the rail corridor. However, Butler Street Community Network did make the OEH aware of the alternate route, prior to approval.

The bypass Biobanking approvals in Dec 2015, supposedly, followed a rigorous assessment by the OEH in accordance with the Threatened Species Act. Assessments for the bypass are meant to ensure the ‘improve or maintain’ standard that underpins Biobanking. The survey request is to clarify if rainforest is present and essential for the ‘improve and maintain’ and the ‘like for like’ offsets to be determined. The BSC application for biobanking included information from old surveys dated 1996/97 and 2001. A request to OEH for the old surveys revealed they didn’t have copies. The current bypass application only did two days of surveys and not in the area where there is doubt about the presence of rainforest. When OEH was questioned if they knew there was mapping that defined an area within the footprint as subtropical rainforest, they revealed that they had not seen the map. In fact, NO BSC maps were included in the applications. OEH was provided Mr Milledge’s detailed review of the Biobanking process, but refused to provide a written response. It’s clear there is doubt, but disturbing that neither BSC nor OEH want to investigate further to clarify the likely presence of Lowland Rainforest. The Department of Planning is responsible for SEPP 14 areas and required the application to address Principle 10 of the NSW Wetlands Policy, which states: ‘Natural wetlands should not be destroyed or degraded. If social or economic imperatives in the public interest result

Above: Floodplain rainforest vegetation that will be destroyed. Left: The endangered Mitchell’s Rainforest Snail.

in a wetland being degraded or destroyed, the establishment and protection of a wetland offset that supports similar biodiversity and ecological functions will be needed.’ It’s for this reason the clarification regarding the presence of the Lowland Rainforest is necessary, otherwise the offsets may be inadequate for the destruction.

NSW State of the Environment Report – Decline The recently released NSW State of the Environment Report 2018 identifies ‘The continuing overall decline in native fauna diversity is owing to the cumulative impact of vegetation clearing and fragmentation, habitat degradation and invasive species’. It’s perplexing that both our council and the state agency are so confident with their processes but unwilling to allow an additional survey to check biodiversity values prior to destruction.

The rainforest doubt deserves checking Our local MP Tamara Smith has raised bypass biodiversity and rainforest concerns with the state ministers. If you are concerned, please contact Tamara so she can pursue the matter further with the Government. Contact: electorateoffice.ballina@parliament.nsw.gov.au

Authorised and paid for by Jan Barham in Byron Shire’s public interest.

www.echo.net.au/byron-echo Byron Shire Echo archives

ƖīƖƆƐǮǽǩǧǨǰ The Byron Shire Echo 9

Profile for Echo Publications

The Byron Shire Echo – Issue 34.09 – August 7, 2019  

Free, independent weekly newspaper from the Byron Shire in north eastern NSW, Australia.

The Byron Shire Echo – Issue 34.09 – August 7, 2019  

Free, independent weekly newspaper from the Byron Shire in north eastern NSW, Australia.