Sutherland Shire Council has passed a motion regarding the management of Audley Weir at the most recent Council meeting.
Audley Weir Concerns
The ongoing concerns with Audley Weir has been noted at the most recent Sutherland Shire Council meeting which occurred on Tuesday 26 April. The unprecedented rainfall in 2022 has resulted in record flooding occurrences of Audley Weir. The closure of Audley road has created a number of issues for both Bundeena Maianbar residents as well as visitors to the Royal National Park.
Among the concerns are the unnecessary flooding events triggered by the lack of management of the flood boards used to keep the weir water level artificially high to accommodate the adjoining Audley Boatshed. Ownership of the flood board management has not been resolved between NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and Transport for NSW (TfNSW).
As well the untimely management of the flood grate which the water passes underneath the road has caused unnecessary flooding. Tree and branch debris regularly block the flood grate causing waterflow to decrease and the weir to flood. It may take days for any blockages to be identified and for TfNSW to schedule it’s clearance.
The other major issue has been the inconsistent signage and online status of the TfNSW LiveTraffic service. The signage and status regularly misreports whether Audley Road is open or closed. This has resulted in commuters having to unnecessarily drive a much longer route via Waterfall to reach their destination. Additionally, a minimal water level across Audley Road can deem it to be closed with drivers under threat of a traffic fine should they cross it.
Sutherland Shire A Ward Councillor Leanne Farmer raised a motion for Council to pursue the concerns of Audley Weir with NPWS & TfNSW. The motion stated:
1. Council write to National Parks and Wildlife Service and Transport for New South Wales calling for combined action to improve maintenance of the Causeway drainage and weir water level system to minimise blockages of the outlets by debris and the weir being dammed unnecessarily.
2. The two agencies also be requested to engage with the residents of Bundeena and Maianbar, as well as the Audley businesses, to provide details of the improved maintenance activities to be carried out and the expected outcomes to be achieved.
3. The two agencies ensure that timely notification of conditions on the Causeway is provided to road users to ensure safe, ready navigation and to avoid undue penalty infringement notices being issued to motorists when the weir is marked closed but has been clear and safe to cross for some time.
4. The National Parks and Wildlife Service and Transport for New South Wales agencies be requested to explore in consultation with stakeholders long term solutions to the ongoing issues that are occurring at the weir.
Councillor Farmer originally raised the motion at the 28 March Council meeting under the Urgent Business Without Notice agenda item. However, no other Councillor would second the motion resulting in D Ward Councillor and Mayor Carmelo Pesce ruling that the matter was not of urgency so the motion did not proceed.
Councillor Farmer submitted the motion with advance notice so that it was included as an agenda item for the 26 April Council meeting. The motion was introduced at the meeting and Councillor Farmer started to speak on the matter. However, Mayor Pesce, who was chairing the meeting, interrupted her as again no other Councillor would second her motion.
The matter did not end there as A Ward Councillor and Deputy Mayor Carol Provan raised a foreshadowed motion in regards to Councillor Farmer’s original Audley Weir motion. A foreshadowed motion is one that is raised before or during a debate on another motion, and which is contrary to, or significantly differs from, the intention of the original motion. As Councillor Farmer motion was not seconded and lapsed Councillor Provan was able to introduce her motion during the meeting.
Councillor Provan’s motion had and an amendment raised by B Ward Councillor Jack Boyd with the final motion text reading as:
- Notes that, in acknowledging the concerns and need of the residents of Bundeena and Maianbar, on 6 April 2022, the Mayor wrote to National Parks and Wildlife Service and Transport for New South Wales calling for:
- a. combined action to improve maintenance of the Causeway drainage and weir water level system to minimise blockages of the outlets by debris and the weir being dammed unnecessarily;
- b. the two agencies to provide timely notification of conditions on the Causeway to road users to ensure safe, ready navigation and to avoid undue penalty infringement notices being issued to motorists when the weir is marked closed but has been clear and safe to cross for some time;
- c. the two agencies to engage with the residents of Bundeena and Maianbar, as well as the Audley businesses, to provide details of the improved maintenance activities to be carried out and the expected outcomes to be achieved.
- Notes that similar representations were made by the Mayor to Lee Evans, MP Member for Heathcote in March 2022.
- Continues to advocate the need for National Parks and Wildlife Service and Transport for New South Wales to explore long-term solutions to the ongoing flooding issues at the weir in consultation with the local community.
- Take all reasonable steps to support and facilitate an urgent meeting between residents, local businesses, and interested stakeholders with Council, National Parks and Wildlife Service and Transport for New South Wales to provide the community with a forum to receive clear advice as to solutions under consideration and associated timeframes for resolution.
A number of Councillors spoke on the issue including D Ward Councillor Greg McLean who raised traffic concerns in his Ward when Audley Road was closed. In particular, he noted the increase in traffic along the Princes Highway running through Yarrawarra, Engadine, Heathcote and Waterfall. The traffic was of special concern around Waterfall as it caused congestion on several residential streets. He also commented on the increased response times for emergency services when Audley Road was closed.
A vote was taken on Councillor Provan and Boyd’s motion and was successfully passed. The motion proceedings were completed in fifteen minutes.