The “Preferred Concept Design” for the Coffs Harbour Bypass is higher, noisier and uglier than what we have been lead to believe by the federal and state governments.

What we saw unveiled to the public tonight (Thursday) in Coffs Harbour is a disaster for the city and the community. People were genuinely shocked by what they learned. They feel very let down by the Nationals.

The elevation of the road is quite shocking. This will spread the noise further, right down to the Jetty in the view of some, and it will be an absolute eyesore. Coffs will become famous for a high pitched monotonous whine created by road noise bouncing off the range.

The Labor candidate for the state seat of Coffs Harbour, Tony Judge, and I attended tonight’s display. We were swamped with feedback. The negative economic, social and environmental impacts are significant.

It is clear this design has been rushed to meet the National Party’s agenda for the March state election and the May federal election. Many oversights came to the fore tonight.

People also entirely dismissed the governments’ claim that they couldn’t do tunnels because 30 dangerous goods vehicles a day couldn’t use them. The people get it. Why should up to 10,000 people have their lives disrupted, properties devalued and their city scared for the sake of 30 truck movements a day? We agree; it is absurd.

We estimate 300 people went through the display tonight. Of the 100 or so we were able to talk to, we estimate that 80 per cent were very unhappy with the design; ten per cent were ambivalent, and ten per cent were satisfied.

Labor believes the federal and state governments should send NSW Roads and Maritime Services back to the drawing board and come up with a design with tunnels for the $1.2 billion allocated.

The Coffs Harbour Bypass is needed, but we must do it right, do it once and now it now – with tunnels. We don’t want a century of regret.