The official NCA release from RMS / GHD meeting with the various Surfside Groups, the NCA and ECA prepared and released by: Ian Hitchcock, Eurobodalla Regional Coordinator,NSW Coastal Alliance.13th December 2018
Around fifty Lower Surfside residents attended an RMS meeting on Thursday 13th December expecting an early Xmas present from the local member Andrew Constance. Andrew had led the NCA, Surfside Residents Group, Wharf Road owners, and the Surfside Engineers Group to believe that the RMS and their appointed consultants GHD, would produce an outline report on the cause and effects of historical erosion in the Bay, and a detailed hydraulics report on the likely effects of the new bridge on that erosion. Instead, after more than four months of preliminary meetings and promises, they were presented with nothing more than an outline brief for the required studies. To make things worse, the RMS advised that the GHD report would not include a scope of works to rectify the damage already caused by the current bridge and other public works on the southern foreshore of the Bay.
"For readers who are not familiar with the issues, there is now clear evidence that the Wharf Road subdivision was “wiped out” as a result of storm events that occurred in the nineteen fifties during and just after construction of the existing bridge." Ian Hitchcock, Eurobodalla Regional Coordinator,
NSW Coastal Alliance.
Severe erosion of the northern shoal that once protected Surfside and Long Beach from coastal storms, commenced at the same time and has continued unabated for seventy odd years. The chenier plain in the Cullendulla Creek Nature Reserve also started eroding at the same time and the level of erosion at that site is now an environmental embarrassment for the State Government.
The credibility of the RMS was damaged by a senior manager’s comment that there was only a tenuous link between the bridge and the historic erosion, even though GHD has barely commenced the preparation work for its studies. RMS officials were of the view that their only obligation to affected residents was to demonstrate that erosion would be “no worse” with new bridge. Members of the Surfside Engineers Group were visibly disturbed by this unsound approach to a major engineering project. Residents were stunned that a government department could suggest that it has no obligation to consider and rectify its past mistakes before launching into new projects of the same kind.
RMS credibility was further damaged by the fact that it released an email last Monday stating that “the design of the bridge and approach roads is complete”. One of the fifty affected residents asked why we were sitting in room listening to concept plans for further studies when the RMS had announced that the bridge planning was “done and dusted”. Several speakers suggested that the RMS had “put the cart before the horse”.
A number of residents were so disgusted with the outcome of the meeting that they requested immediate action for the injunction process to be reactivated until such time as the RMS meets its basic duty of care to examine all factors that have, will or may affect low lying residential areas on the northern side of the Clyde River estuary, before construction work commences on the new bridge.
The NSW Coastal Alliance and the Eurobodalla Coast Alliance will continue to work with the RMS and to local member to broker a satisfactory outcome for Lower Surfside residents, but the mood of the meeting was tense. Lower Surfside residents are clearly sick of the attempts by Council and the State Government bureaucracy to use them as climate change pawns, destroying the future and value of their homes.
As usual, Council representatives were conspicuous by their absence. For some reason, Councillor Phil Constable, the one councillor to have attended earlier meetings and shown an interest in the issue, did not receive an invitation to attend.
The local member Andrew Constance responded immediately he learned of the unsatisfactory outcome from Thursday’s meeting with RMS and GHD (not GDH as appeared in another report). Andrew will be meeting with Lower Surfside residents on Monday 17th December to see how the RMS/GHD study process went off the rails, and what he can do to get it back on track. - IH