Whilst the announcement, by the NSW Government, of a new concrete traffic bridge to replace the iconic steel bridge across the Clyde River at Batemans Bay has met with broad approval, there are many community members who decry the present lack of detailed information. These are concerned residents who live and often operate over, under, around or near the existing bridge and they are concerned about the unseen and ill-defined effects that the new bridge may create. One group in particular is raising concerns with the RMS. Residents of Surfside have long argued that the piers of the current Batemans Bay Bridge and rock walling of the southern shores may well have contributed to the rapid erosion of the Surfside sandbanks exposing the suburb to sea inundation that might well force home retreat if forced by Council's soon to be revised Coastal Management Policy is adopted. With an assemblage of well endorsed community sponsored report and a solid protest of local residents building the RMS has been questioned around their new bridge hydrological studies for erosion impact and found wanting to the point where further testing 1km up stream to 1km down stream will be required and a detailed report of the erosion effects of the design tabled. The Cullendulla Chenier plain, that is rapidly eroding, is considered a geographical wonder that informs climate studies that provides data back tens of thousands of years. The plain is also an aboriginal heritage area and comprises part of a National Park. The Beagle has learned that newly formed Batemans Bay Foreshore Committee has now met on three occasions to discuss the concerns held by committee members and to hear the solutions being worked through by the RMS and project contractor, John Holland. It is a formally established RMS committee and clear agenda items are established between Council and the RMS for discussion for each meeting. The meetings are required to be officially minuted including a record of any divisions between the committee, the RMS or Eurobodalla Council who have both staff and the Mayor as attendees. While the meetings are not open to the public and all the committee members are to be sworn to secrecy on matters that are nominated as confidential most members have not, as yet signed the agreement as they seek further clarification on what is and what is not confidential. It is understood that many, if not all, are confused at being community representatives yet disallowed from actually talking with the community. Presently the RMS has taken the Terms of Reference for the committee back to the drawing board to ensure there is absolute clarification in what is expected of the community and the parameters of the committee which are understood and being constrained to only a limited section of the foreshore. The concern therefore remains that there might well be back-room agreement with committee members, Council, the RMS and the project managers without community inclusion in the process due to the fact that committee members are actually gagged from talking to the community they are meant to represent. If this is the case it will be seen as simply lip service, box ticking with the community "getting what they are given". Our Towns Our Say (OTOS) is following on from its own three previous and highly successful community forums, to allow concerned members of Batemans Bay and surrounding areas, a chance to bring their concerns into sharp focus at the next forum. This will be held in the Batemans Bay Soldiers Club on Saturday 1 December at 2:00pm.
Spokesperson for OTOS, Coral Anderson stated that she and her colleagues had received much correspondence on the matter and had been asked to program another meeting to allow the voices to be heard and the facts to be debated. She said that there is now heightened community anxiety that encompasses the following bridge issues:
Traffic flow and access from the new bridge into the retail heart;
Clearance for vessels wishing to pass beneath the new bridge;
Access to existing boat ramps;
Effects on established businesses during and after construction;
Downstream shore erosion;
Hydrodynamic effects of the proposed new bridge pylons;
Destruction of the iconic, heritage-listed steel bridge;
Pedestrian and disabled access; and
Impact on as-yet-undiscovered archeological artefacts.
Anyone wishing to have a substantive bridge issue included on the Agenda, is advised to contact Coral, ASAP, on 0401 488 967.