C4 option for bypass
By PETER CATON
THE $360 million-plus Tugun bypass, winding its way west of the Gold Coast Airport from Currumbin to West Tweed Heads, on the controversial C4 option route should be completed in 18 months to two years.
Queensland Premier Peter Beattie yesterday said he believed final approvals needed from the commonwealth government would be quickly granted.
But, he said, he had no idea how much the project would ultimately cost.
Standing on a hill overlooking the route from a property his government has bought at Piggabeen in New South Wales for compensatory habitat, Mr Beattie refused to guess at the final cost of the project.
Two-year-old estimates that put the cost at $360 million had "obviously" gone up, he said.
It is the Queensland government that will pick up the tab for the extra cost.
Mr Beattie said he did not expect the NSW government, which has steadfastly refused to pay a cent for a road it believes serves Queensland despite being partly in NSW ? to pay anything.
"That argument is over," Mr Beattie said.
He said he hoped arguments by environmentalists and those who believed valuable Aboriginal sites would be disturbed by the project construction were also over.
Mr Beattie yesterday told two protesters at the announcement, Save our Lakes president Richard Murray and Tweed Heads Environment Group president Ole Lyngsted, that 50 conditions imposed by the NSW Depart- ment of Planning would allay their concerns.
However Mr Lyngsted said his group would consider going to the NSW Land and Environment Court to delay and stop the project.
Although construction is set to start in March, with tenders already being called, Mr Lyngsted said his group could move quickly to begin court action.
"We will certainly try," he said.
NSW Premier Morris Iemma said the 50 "stringent environmental controls" provided a good balance between a great engineering project and environmental concerns.
The package includes:
l 80 hectares of land within NSW for compensatory habitat, including the 65-hectare former grazing property with a view overlooking the Gold Coast where the announcement took place;
l Protection of known archaeological sites;
l A cultural heritage manage-ment plan which would include consultation with local Aboriginal people;
l Specialised design to limit the impacts on swamp orchids, long-nosed potoroos and wallum sedge frogs.
Mr Iemma said he was not concerned about the cost of maintaining the tunnel to be built below the water line under the proposed runway extension of the Gold Coast Airport.
Critics have suggested it will cost a million dollars a year to keep dry.