Record of Public Forum



held Via Zoom commencing at

12 noon on Wednesday, 10 March 2021


Leanne Barnes

General Manager





Public Forum Agenda

10 March 2021

Public Forum


1     New Business

4.1       Public Forum Submissions Recieved.......................................................................... 3   


4.1Public Forum Submissions Recieved     

Deputations for the Public Forum of 10 March 2021 were received and circulated to Councillors.

Mayor, Russell Fitzpatrick


Public Forum

Held on Wednesday 10 March 2021 at 12:00 noon

Via Zoom


Cr Russell Fitzpatrick Mayor

Cr Liz Seckold, Deputy Mayor

Cr Tony Allen

Cr Robyn Bain

Cr Jo Dodds

Cr Cathy Griff

Cr Mitchell Nadin


In Attendance:

General Manager, Ms Leanne Barnes

Director, Assets and Operations, Mr Anthony McMahon

Director,  Community, Environment and Planning, Dr Alice Howe

Director, Business and Governance, Ms Iliada Bolton

Project Lead – Recovery, Rebuilding and Resilience, Mr Chris Horsburgh

Manager, Communication and Events, Ms Emily Harrison

Minute Secretary, Mrs Bec Jones


Statement of Commencement of Live Streaming

The Mayor made an announcement about live streaming requirements noting that:

Public Forums are recorded and live streamed to the Internet for public viewing.

The recording will be archived and made available on Council’s website

Acknowledgement of Traditional Custodians of Bega Valley Shire

The Mayor commenced by acknowledging, on behalf of Bega Valley Shire Council, the Traditional Custodians of the lands and waters of the Shire, the people of Yuin nation, to show respect to elders past and present.


Apologies were noted from Cr Liz Seckold.

Determination of excess requests

A total of 8 requests to speak AGAINST Item 11.7 Bridges Funding have been received.

1.     Submission in writing

2.     Submission in writing

3.     Request to speak at Public Forum

4.     Request to speak at Public Forum

5.     Request to speak at Public Forum

6.     Request to speak at Public Forum

7.     Request to speak at Public Forum

8.     Request to speak at Public Forum


The General Manager provided an exception to allow requests 4 and 5 to speak, due to requests 1 and 2 being in writing.

In addition, the General Manager and Mayor determined to accept the excess requests to speak (6, 7, and 8) and those speakers would be heard at the Public Forum.


Public Forum Addresses

The following requests were heard regarding:

Item 11.7 Bridges Funding








Ms Karen Joynes


Via written submission

Unfortunately I will not be able to address Council at the meeting as I will be travelling. Please accept this written submission.
On reading that the local Member for Bega, Andrew Constance, had
announced funding for bridge works on the South Coast, I was shocked
to see that the replacement of Cuttagee bridge was top of the list, with $7.5 m
funding. I was further shocked to realise a decision on the future of
the bridge is to be made by Council this week just a few days after the announcement.
With little time to prepare and on contacting a few people, I decided
to start a  petition. Within the first day, over 600
people had signed. At the time of writing, there are over 1200 signatures.
This gives an indication of the passion people have for our "iconic"
wooden bridges, and how much both residents and visitors value our relatively slower way of life. It is a distinct point of difference to other coastal towns.
Please read the petition which outlines my concerns with the
demolition proposal (also below). The comments are also relevant to
your decision.
Other than the heritage aspect, of especial concern is the safety
aspect. Nowhere in the engineer's report is there any mention of the
fact that the southern approach to Cuttagee bridge is used by many people who park their vehicles there to access Cuttagee Lake and beach. When prawns are running, many also park their vehicles there at night. A two lane bridge will undoubtedly increase the risk of injury, possibly fatal, for these people.
Please listen to the community that values and wants to preserve our
wooden bridges, and use the grant funding to repair and reinforce
Cuttagee bridge for future generations to enjoy and appreciate.
Please vote to not demolish Cuttagee bridge. Please ensure the other
wooden bridges on the Tathra-Bermagui Road (Wallaga Lake, Murrah and
Wapengo) are also protected.
The bridge
* is heritage listed and considered "iconic".
Cuttagee, with the Murrah, Wallaga Lake [and Wapengo bridges], are unique along
the NSW coast.
* is historic, and gives an insight into what life on the coast was like before modernisation destroyed so much.
is aesthetic. The bridge is featured in books, movies, tourism promotions.
makes people slow down to appreciate the area.  
makes the Cuttagee lake/estuary area safer as drivers have to slow down for the single lane bridge.
A two lane bridge will allow drivers to travel much faster across the water body, endangering lake and beach users who park along the road. This area is heavily used by many people especially over summer and other peak tourist times, and even 40 kph is considered too fast by some.
* The Tathra-Bermagui Road along Cuttagee Beach is considered to be in the "almost certain" Erosion and Recession Hazards zone under Bega
Valley Shire Council's Coastal Processes and Hazards Definition Study.
* Building a new bridge, in the long term, would be a waste of money
due to predicted sea level rise, erosion and coastal inundation.
* Funds would be better spent determining an alternative inland route
to withstand sea level rise and extreme events (Option 4 for the Council agenda on Wednesday 10.3.21)
* The bridges give a unique, laid back, historic character to the area, and if Cuttagee Bridge  is replaced, the area will be one more step towards the homogenous, predicable, hurried character typical of the rest of the NSW coast.


Mr Gregory Hutchinson


Via written Submission

As I will not have access to Zoom facilities on Wednesday, it would be appreciated if this submission is presented to the Council meeting.
As resident and ratepayer I ask you:  Please do not vote to demolish Cuttagee Bridge.
The bridge has great heritage value, and many tourism sites list it as "iconic".
It also makes the Lake and estuary area safer as drivers have to slow down on the approaches to the bridge and travel slowly over the bridge.
One way Council could protect and conserve Cuttagee Bridge is to once again make the Tathra-Bermagui Road for light vehicles only.
Before the road was upgraded and sealed (completed about 15 years ago),it was deemed unsuitable for caravans and heavy vehicles.
Since then, the number and size of vehicles using the road has increased dramatically, which would be impacting on all five wooden bridges on the Tathra-Bermagui Road. Very large combinations of dual cab utes towing dual axle caravans, Winnebagoes and truck-sized utes (eg. Rams) towing large off-shore boats, as well as delivery trucks would all be adding to the wear and tear.
Caravanners and boat towers would still be able to access Bermagui and Wallaga Lake from Cobargo, using the Princes Highway which is designed and constructed for heavy vehicles.
Will Council please adopt this strategy to ensure, not just Cuttagee but also Wallaga Lake, Murrah, Wapengo and Sandy Creek bridges are conserved into the future?




Ms Jenifer James


Audio Visual via Zoom

Very little of anything of heritage value remains, and when it does it is, like this iconic and much loved bridge, it is easier to dismiss it and rebuild something which never reflects the past and is -inevitably- totally devoid of beauty. There is obviously plenty of money available to build concrete bridges, but not apparently to save this beautiful little bridge.
Is the Wallaga lake bridge next?
I am also deeply disturbed by the apparent total blackout  of information from Council or anyone else about this matter. I have had two searches on the Bega site with only a frustrating lack of result. The only information I have been able to get has been through some hurried phone calls and the local newspaper.
We literally found out about it through an announcement from Andrew Constance MP a few days ago: where was the public consultation or information. Where was the ability to fact check for ourselves, to offer both sides of this 'decision' making?

More than 3 deputations against, allowed by exception approved by the General Manager, as 2 deputations were via written submission


Mr Colin Sagar


Audio Visual via Zoom

Concerns about the lack of public consultation
Implications for BVS Vision, Land Use and the Tourism Strategy
Authentic consultation reqqired  


Mr David Francis

Four Winds Concerts Inc (Authority Received)

Audio Visual via Zoom

Loss of significant cultural heritage and landmarks
Impact to Four Winds Business during Bridge Closure

Excess Requests  – General Manager and Mayor accepted to hear addresses at the Public Forum


Ms Catherine Palese


Audio Visual via Zoom

I am greatly concerned that the planned replacement of this heritage-listed and much loved part off the south coast is being rushed through without community consultation as part of a funding package. While everyone in the region is concerned about the safety of the bridge, most that I know in the region value the history, wooden-design and single-lane aspects of the bridge that are unique and a feature of our region. The cost of replacing the bridge makes annual upkeep of the current wooden bridge pail in comparison and moving from a slow and single-lane bridge causes concerns not only for the likelihood of large trucks driving through but also safety concerns for the dozens of families and children who park before and swim under the bridge. I feel strongly that finding a solution that may make the bridge safe without destroying its wooden design and heritage with community involvement -- not rushed through in a matter of days -- is really important for the community. I would like the chance to present my concerns and ask questions about why other options and taking the time to address this properly can't be done. Thank you, C. Blair Palese


Mr Phillip Keir


Audio Visual via Zoom

Important economic and environmental considerations have not been canvassed in the supporting papers.
No business case has been tabled for the meeting for the replacement and expansion of the bridge. There is considerable financial risk given that NSW funding is not likely to cover much more than half of the costs.
No QS report has been tabled for the meeting. A major civil project in an area with exposure to ocean and tidal flows may mean the project is prone to very large cost overruns.
No environmental report has been tabled for the meeting. A major expansion of the bridge with a complete change of construction material with have a major effect on the environment. Vastly increased CO2 emissions will accompany the replacement of a structure made from renewal materials with a structure made from non - renewable materials.



Hannah Dunn


Audio Visual via Zoom

I write in objection to the current proposal for the replacement of Cuttagee bridge without public consultation for the following planning, tourism, environmental reasons and request that the item be suspended from the Bega Valley Council agenda 11.7 of the Agenda for 2pm 10 March 2021 until such time as community consultation has been adequately and thoroughly carried out to enable proper consideration of the proposal.
Reasons for objections:
1. Environmental impacts of the new structure have not been considered  that the bridge and proposed bridge is in the wetland proximity zone as defined by the Coastal Management Act and SEPP
The bridge and road leading up from the south under the State Environmental Planning Policy: Coastal Management 2018 are classified as proximity zones to wetlands and coastal use areas and the impacts of the replacement on these areas, and the appropriate permissions and consultations required have not been considered by the bridge replacement proposal. The word wetland is not even mentioned in the council agenda. This is unacceptable and councillors should be making a decision based on consideration of these impacts and more robust advice. 
The SEPP dictates the development controls for wetlands and their proximity areas. The SEPP controls apply to this area, and part of an area that touches on the then it must be a matter of consideration and if Council does not look at it they're not looking at a jurisdictional fact. From the plans of the bridge I believe the new proposal will impinge on the proximity area for the coastal wetlands even further. 
2. Lack of public consultation
The announcement of the funding and proposal was made public via Andrew Constance's facebook page in a video with the Bega Valley General Manager last week, and a council meeting is being held tomorrow - not even a week later.  The council papers state there has only been "board engagement" given the short timeframe available to advise the NSW government. This is not adequate community or stakeholder engagement. 
Where is the evidence of any attempt to obtain the community's view on such an important decision before a replacement option is decided upon - where the design of the concrete pylon bridge is already in the council papers? The council is proposing retrospective disingenuous public consultation. Consultation after a decision has already been made and designs already in council papers is not adequate.  
1500 people have signed the petition to stop the replacement of the Cuttagee Bridge just in the last few days - surely that's enough to warrant reconsideration of the proposal and proper consultation to be undertaken?
3. Carbon intensity of a concrete bridge structure at odds with the Bega Valley Shire and NSW Government's Net Zero commitments  by 2050. 
The NSW Government and Bega Valley has committed to net zero, and yet it is proposing the replacement of a wooden bridge of significant heritage value and heritage listed according to the council's own papers, to be replaced by a concrete structure. 
Modern methods of construction and life cycle analyses worldwide have demonstrated the value of wooden structures for their benefits like carbon sequestration, versus the embedded carbon impacts of concrete and steel structures. Net zero is not simply about renewable electricity, it's about calculating the carbon in the materials you use for construction and ensuring these are offset as well. It's both operation and embedded carbon considerations. 
While cost is one consideration, surely the emissions associated with bridges over their lifetime from materials to maintenance (resurfacing requirements and bitumen for example on the concrete and steel structures etc) and also the carbon storage properties should also be costed and factored in - which I see no such evidence for this particular bridge proposal. 
Comparisons of steel, wood and concrete structures of course show that concrete is cheapest, but when it comes to global warming the wood bridge is by far better than the other two alternatives - this is in academic literature. Please consult the Journal of Bridge Engineering. 
At some point we are going to actually have to take the planet and emissions into account in local decisions and state decision making. Environmental and Social sustainability, not just economics, should be embedded into council thinking - and state government thinking, in every decision, if we are to reach net zero. That means greater use of timber, not less of it, both in bridges and buildings where the situation allows. And in a coastal location like Cuttagee - surely this is worth of consideration. 
4. Heritage value of the current bridge structure
This is not a discussion of the second crossing of the Sydney Harbour, this is a place where timber milling in the early 1900s helped establish the Bermagui and wider community. This is not an objection on the basis of just an iconic bridge, but what it symbolises in terms of the historic nature of this very strip of coastline. 
This Bermagui and regional community was built on fishing and timber - that's why we must keep timber bridges, especially those set next to and near the sites of historic timber mills. It's how the region was established and came into prominence. The wooden bridge is symbolic of the timber trade which dominated this part of the coast in years gone by. There was even a mill in Cuttagee.
This is the iconic Cuttagee bridge where I myself have witnessed the rarest sights of octopus play between the wooden pylons and stingrays swimming beneath the bridge ... This is a pristine place of natural beauty. A place people go for the bridge setting, a quiet place to swim in the lagoon with young children, to show their children a place of history, because it is a window into the past.
What has council cost as the impact on the intrinsic heritage values of this decision? 
5. Tourism value of the current bridge structure
There are over 2,000 instagram posts alone of the cuttagee bridge location, especially coming off the back to the summer period. This serves to promote the local area and is clear evidence of its high intrinsic value and tourism value, promoting the local area and iconic attributes of the Bermagui region. These photos are not being shared of a concrete bridge and beach - they are being shared because the bridge is a rarity on the NSW coast, they are being shared because the wooden bridge connecting the area with its surrounds are beautiful, historic and reminiscent of an era gone by of the wood mills which inhabited the area. Losing such an iconic bridge without any public consultation, of such tourism value and promotional opportunity aside from any general beauty and historical consideration is unacceptable.  
Yours sincerely,
Hannah Dunn Bermagui, NSW, 2546





The Public Forum session closed at 12:56pm.

The recording of the Public Forum is available on Council’s website:



1.         Item 11.7 Bridges Funding - Speakers Notes - Jenifer James

2.         Item 11.7 Bridges Funding - Speakers Notes - Colin Sagar


Public Forum

10 March 2021

Item 4.1 - Attachment 1

Item 11.7 Bridges Funding - Speakers Notes - Jenifer James


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Public Forum

10 March 2021

Item 4.1 - Attachment 2

Item 11.7 Bridges Funding - Speakers Notes - Colin Sagar


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