Moruya Bypass Action Group Presentation to the Ordinary Meeting of Council on Tuesday 22 June 2021 Supporting Councillor Brown’s Notice of Motion NOM21/001 Moruya Bypass Community Feedback and requesting it be amended to include the creation of an independent co-design committee for the Moruya bypass.
Good morning. Thank you for the opportunity to address Council and the community. I am presenting on behalf of the Moruya Bypass Action Group which represents members of the Moruya community who have come together because they are concerned about the processes involved in the selection of the preferred Moruya Bypass corridor, as well as the impacts of this corridor on productive agricultural land, properties, local businesses, the environment as well as the amenity and social fabric of our town.
We believe that the Moruya community deserves the best bypass solution possible. Despite Councillor Brown’s confidence in the community engagement process, we are greatly concerned about the tokenistic community consultation undertaken to date by Transport for NSW on the Moruya bypass, which is without doubt the most significant project ever undertaken in our town. The community has been given insufficient and at times conflicting information about the various corridor options, with little time to consider whether the preferred option is the best one for our town and community.
Our group has mushroomed to over 100 (and still growing) since the 21st May when the preferred option report was released. Our members have submitted a wide range of feedback on the options report, often times “copying in” the local member Andrew Constance, relevant Ministers, Federal MPs and this Council. We also requested more detailed information from Transport for NSW, and gained media coverage through newspaper articles and radio interviews.
The sense within the community is that this project is being rushed through based on an inadequate and untimely community consultation. The consultation occurred just a few weeks after the catastrophic “black summer” bushfires had ravaged our community, and during the initial lockdown period from the COVID-19 pandemic. This was not the time to ask the community to provide feedback on a project of such long-lasting and strategic importance.
It was hoped that answers and additional information would be provided by Transport for NSW at the community information sessions held between the 22nd and 27th May, but this did not occur. Instead, the community was confronted with stock answers drawn from an inadequate options report, together with a dubious questionnaire designed to deliver support for the preferred option. No additional information was provided, and many critical questions were unable to be answered. Transport for NSW finally released 14 pages of supplementary information on the 10th June,, only 4 days before the closing date for submissions on 14th June (a holiday weekend Monday).
The supplementary report refers to several workshops held to consider the various route options for the bypass corridor. Only one of these workshops included community representatives, and it is not clear who the community representatives were or how representative they were of the community. These representatives were also required to sign a confidentiality agreement before participating in the workshop, preventing community access to any outcomes and associated information. The supplementary report states “the final workshop was not definitive on reaching a consensus on the preferred strategic bypass corridor option due to a number of differing views by workshop participants”. The final submission to Transport for NSW recommended further work be done on the Orange, Purple and Yellow corridor options, with additional consideration for a hybrid Purple option.
We are also concerned that the consultation process so far has not provided any real information on the future maintenance and management of the existing bridge crossing the Moruya River, which has significant implications for Eurobodalla Council’s own ratepayer-funded infrastructure works program.
It is notable that there has been a surprising lack of formal consideration or advice provided by Eurobodalla Council on the Moruya Bypass, as reflected in its meeting agenda papers. This is despite Council being a participant in the September 2020 Value Management Workshop used to select the preferred route. There have not been any Council agenda items on the Moruya bypass since community consultation commenced in March 2020. In fact, there has been only one formal agenda item mentioning the Moruya bypass since it was announced in March 2019. This took the form of Notice of Motion 19/007 in October 2019 by Clr Lindsay Brown, who requested that Council write to Transport for NSW regarding questions around consultation with Council and compensation for affected businesses in Moruya. There is no mention in any subsequent agenda papers of responses provided to these questions.
We note that Transport for NSW has recently responded to concerns raised by the Shoalhaven community regarding the proposed route for the Milton-Ulladulla bypass by announcing the creation of a co-design committee for that project. The co-design committee will be an independent committee of community stakeholders, residents, government agencies and Transport representatives. This committee will identify and recommend an option for the bypass. Once identified, that option will be shared with the wider community for feedback.
We think that the complexities and impacts of the Moruya bypass are of sufficient scale and magnitude to justify a similar co-design process for the Moruya bypass.
On the basis of the information presented today and the overriding importance of this project to the town of Moruya and its community, we ask that Councillors agree to amend NOM21/001 to say that Eurobodalla Shire Council write to the relevant Ministers as well as Transport for NSW requesting the creation of an independent co-design committee for the Moruya Bypass. The committee would run on a similar basis and terms of reference to those announced for the Milton-UIladulla bypass. This co-design committee should also examine the future management and maintenance of the existing bridge over the Moruya River, as this is a vital community asset whose longer term future must be assured.
We will only get one chance with a major project like this, so we need to make sure that Transport for NSW invests the time and resources to get this process right.
Our town and our community deserve no less.
Thank you for your attention
on behalf of
The Moruya Bypass Action Group
Note 1 : Further details on the Milton-Ulladulla Co-Design Committee can be found at :
Note 2 : Attached to this presentation is a Summary of Issues of Concern regarding the current preferred route and consultation processes for the Moruya Bypass as a reference for what we believe to be key areas that need to be properly addressed by Transport for NSW.