The Beagle Editor, The 1954 and 1959 floods, referenced in a letter to Mr Russel Schnieder of the Eurobodalla Coastal Alliance (ECA) by Council's General Manager, Dr Dale, coincided with construction of the existing Batemans Bay bridge. It is known that construction of the bridge started in 1949, and the bridge was completed in 1956 with turbulence caused by the bridge pylons being suspected of contributing to the nearby Wharf Road erosion. The extensive Sethi Report noted the effects of this turbulence but not to the extent of the damage caused in the 1950’s that Dr Dale revealed in her letter.
Soon after, Councillor Maureen Nathan stated during the 26 June 2018 council meeting – "however in this historical connection I have had with Wharf Road as a private citizen and now as a councillor much of the discussion has been about the dreaded bridge piers and the sand flow ...... and I’m looking at the new bridge, the new piers and sand flow and for that reason I am wondering whether this proposal of doing a study now is in fact premature because we don’t know… again… what the new piers are going to do…." Readers of the Beagle might be interested in the following letter that has now been sent to the Minister of Roads, Melinda Pavey. AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FOR THE MINISTER
Dear Minister Pavey,
You should be aware that I am preparing a brief in support of an injunction against the construction of the Batemans Bay bridge. The reason for the proposed injunction is that your department has failed to address the issue of man-made erosion in Batemans inner bay. The studies included in your REF, EIS, and Hydrological report are inadequate, and it has been implied that the new bridge pylons will have no more effect on erosion in the inner bay, than the existing bridge.
Minister, the current bridge may have caused serious erosion that contributed to the destruction of the old Wharf Road subdivision, removal of the Surfside spit, and erosion of the northern shoals that once protected Wharf Road and the suburb of Surfside from coastal storms. Certainly, it is one of three man-made erosion triggers that has been identified in the Sethi report attached.
It was initially thought that the bridge had a minimal effect on the historic erosion in the inner bay, and for this reason it was not pushed as a major issue at the new bridge planning sessions. But that assumption was not correct. The General Manager of the Eurobodalla Shire Council recently advised the Eurobodalla Coast Alliance that the the Wharf road subdivision was “wiped out” in the 1954 and 1959 floods. This timing coincides with the construction of the old Batemans Bay bridge. The 1954 event occurred during construction after the pylons were installed, and the 1959 event was the first major flood after its construction. Too much of a coincidence to be ignored.
The people of Surfside do not wish to proceed with an injunction, but the local Council has gone out of its way to discredit the Sethi report. Council and the OEH are afraid of the negligence and financial implications of Sethi’s findings. Council has informed Transport Minister and local member Andrew Constance that they have expert advice that refutes the report, but have failed to respond to many requests by the local member for them to produce the reports of their experts. To this day, those reports have not been produced.
The foregoing, and the fact that Lower Surfside has been declared a “coastal vulnerability area” under the new Coastal Management Act, will help you understand why the 250 property owners in lower Surfside have lost faith in Government and the local Council, and are now examining their legal options. The representatives of this community are prepared to listen to reason, but need to be assured that their erosion issue will be properly addressed before the bridge works proceed.
At a minimum, the man-made (government) contribution historic erosion must be recognised, the effect of the old and new bridge pylons properly addressed, and a plan produced for the rectification of the environmental damage caused to the protective sand spit and shoals.
I await your response with interest.
Eurobodalla Regional Coordinator
NSW Coastal Alliance