On Wednesday March 11th, 2020 the Member for Bega, Andrew Constance stated the following in regards to the Batemans Bay bridge to the Legislative Council PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE NO. 6 - TRANSPORT AND CUSTOMER SERVICE
The Hon. MARK BANASIAK:
Just one final question: You mentioned about the Batemans Bay Bridge.There is a bridge pylon being placed close to the Punt Road boat ramp in the intertidal zone. Has there been any work done around whether that will improve sand movement or make it worse? One of the problems with that boat ramp is it is continually sanding up.
Image sourced from Transport NSW video
Mr ANDREW CONSTANCE: Yes. We even saw a temporary boat ramp taken out by a storm surge. The Surfside community there have had a lot to say in relation to the impact of infrastructure in and around the Clyde River area onto their community. It also flows through to the boating infrastructure, to be perfectly blunt. One of the things I am very sensitive to is making sure we have good engagement between Transport for NSW and our Wollongong office and in particular Sam Knight, who is now leading that engagement locally, to deal with sand movement and title impacts of the bridge pylons. We are taking a significant number of pylons out of the old bridge.
The Hon. MARK BANASIAK: We do not know yet whether it is going to have an impact.
Mr ANDREW CONSTANCE: There has been work done by GHD in this regard, but again there is a little bit of dispute among the community in relation to the findings of that review. There is going to be potentially a revetment wall that will be placed in that area, which will hopefully give more stability. A spokesperson for Transport NSW advised The Beagle that "Transport for NSW is committed to providing boat ramp access to the Clyde River at Batemans Bay during the project. However, any planned changes to the Clyde Street boat ramp are the responsibility of local council."
On this matter The Hon. MARK BANASIAK asked Andrew Constance: Appreciating that you are showing support for your local area, particularly what it has been faced with,have you heard that the local council, Eurobodalla council, plans to close one of those boat ramps along the Clyde River?
Mr ANDREW CONSTANCE: Yes. So, again, there have a whole heap of challenges around the Clyde, you would appreciate, with the building of the Batemans Bay Bridge and what have you. I know certainly there is strong advocacy that is provided by a number of people—ex-councillor Adam Martin has been very good in this regard—and they have gone and done their own assessment to present to local government around what is required in terms of boat ramps. I think the thing is—and this is something I would like to see replicated across the board—allow the local anglers to come forward with the infrastructure assessments and priorities, engage with local government and, for that matter, Maritime, and get more stuff built. That is the type of approach we should be having in terms of this type of infrastructure. It is important.
The Hon. MARK BANASIAK: Will you be putting your two cents worth into the local council and encouraging them to not close the Clyde River boat ramp?
Mr ANDREW CONSTANCE: Again, as long as we are able to do that around that. But Batemans Bay Bridge development I am happy to obviously take that away. But, again, my expectation is that when you have an informal structure with these groups through local councils and the department, sometimes that informal process does not necessarily give it the best outcome. So maybe there is an opportunity to formalise things more importantly into the future. In light of the above a question remains around any decision being made to redesign the Punt Road boat ramp as a result of a bridge pylon being placed close to the Punt Road boat ramp. Eurobodalla Council also appears to have committed to closing the Clyde Street boatramp. It has long been argued by Council's economic rationalist that it can not afford to maintain infrastructure, especially that new infrastructure 'gifted' to it via funding from agencies such as Better Boating and NSW Maritime in the form of boatramps, fishing platforms and other facilities provided for recreational fishers, funded from fishing licences. Eurobodalla Council have determined that Batemans Bay and the Clyde River needs only to have two deep water boat ramps being Hanging Rock and Nelligen. The ramp at Punt Road will only serve shallow launching due to the continued sand build up. The ramp is also in a high risk area of being compromised by tidal inundations that have already destroyed the temporary ramp that was constructed at Korners Park. Around this issue the Hon. MARK BANASIAK asked Andrew Constance on March 11th, 2020 : Do you think the system is working with the fifty-fifty split between Maritime and local councils and the fact that the local council then has to maintain the asset for the life of it? Because we constantly get reports to our office that it is not working and councils are reluctant to take up funding opportunities through the Boating Now Program because they know they are going to be saddled with the maintenance of this asset and do not want to add that to their asset list. Mr ANDREW CONSTANCE: Again, it is a very real challenge and I accept what you are saying in terms of the capacity of councils to financially afford some of this infrastructure. But at the same time we have seen some really good projects as a result of having that fifty-fifty split and some great outcomes. To be honest with you, I think there are some very obvious challenges. One of these areas which is concerning me at the moment is dredging the bars, in particular, and how that benefits the recreational fishing sector. There are elements of that where the councils are not acting, not contributing at all for dredging. So, yes, I think there is a degree of contribution required. Local government also enjoys the benefit of increased economic activity that is brought by the recreational fishing sector in this State and it is an important sector, absolutely important. Ultimately, if there was a better way, I am sure we would have come up with it but at the moment I think it is obviously designed to be balanced against other competing priorities in the transport space, be it dredging or be it other activities.