Save Our Breakwall has released a coastal engineer's report which provides a detailed assessment of Port Macquarie's Southern Breakwall.
The group raised $8000 for Angus Gordon, a coastal engineer with 53 years' experience, to conduct an on-site visual breakwall inspection and produce an assessment report.
The report said a development application would be required for anything other than routine maintenance as per the Coastal Act and associated planning policy.
It said based on inspections and available information, it would seem the breakwall is in reasonable condition, but in need of some targeted repairs. The report does not support a major upgrade.
The 57-page document is available through Save Our Breakwall's Facebook page.
Mr Gordon, speaking after the report's release, said a major upgrade was not only unnecessary but would cause unnecessary disruption to the breakwall and community.
"I am hoping Transport for NSW, having looked at the report, will recognise there is not a need for a major upgrade and targeted sensitive repairs are what is required," he said.
The $5 million state government project involves rebuilding 600 metres of the breakwall, maintenance to the breakwall head with minimal change in the footprint, and a five metre-wide footpath along the entire structure.
Save Our Breakwall's position
Save Our Breakwall spokesperson Damian King presented Mr Gordon's report to NSW Regional Transport and Roads Minister Sam Farraway.
The group wants Transport for NSW to take heed of the report, and if not, will consider its legal options through the Land and Environment Court of NSW, Mr King confirmed.
Mr King spoke about the breakwall's cultural significance, and the importance of coming up with a method that protects that cultural significance and doesn't destroy it.
Call for halt to breakwall project
Mr Farraway, in Port Macquarie on Wednesday, March 1, confirmed he will pass the report onto Transport for NSW secretary Rob Sharp.
He said the NSW Nationals wanted the handbrake put on the breakwall project and for Transport for NSW to review the report and make no more decisions until then.
"I believe we can have the integrity of the breakwall and the breakwater, and we can repair, and we can find solutions and bring the community together on this," Mr Farraway said.
Elliott 'comfortable with engineering advice and consultation'
Transport Minister David Elliott, speaking on February 23, said the government will go ahead with the $5 million investment to upgrade the breakwall.
Mr Elliott said he was comfortable with the government's engineering advice and the community consultation.
He inspected the breakwall as part of a visit to Port Macquarie.
Transport for NSW responds
A Transport for NSW spokesperson said the Review of Environmental Factors included detailed engineering drawings which showed that the repair work was needed because of the breakwall's poor structural condition.
"These demonstrate that there has been serious toe scour, rock movement and slumping along the breakwall," the spokesperson said.
"The rock has settled and shifted over time, creating voids which compromise the effectiveness and stability of the structure."
The spokesperson also referenced the two engineering reports which Transport for NSW commissioned.
When it came to the matter of a development application, the spokesperson said development consent from council was not required.
The upgrade had been assessed appropriately under Division 5.1 of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979, the spokesperson said.
"Features such as the proposed establishment of a temporary construction compound and stockpile site is considered ancillary and incidental to the proposal and therefore, is also permitted without consent," the spokesperson said.
State election candidates have their say
Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams, who is the Liberal candidate for Port Macquarie, indicated she will read Mr Gordon's report.
She stands behind the upgrade project.
"We have had the advice from experts from within the department that have been doing this work for a long time," Mrs Williams said.
"We are all confident, whether it's the Premier, the [Transport] minister or myself, and Transport for NSW, that this [upgrade] is the appropriate and right thing to do to ensure the security of that infrastructure for generations to come."
Peta Pinson, the mayor and NSW Nationals candidate for Port Macquarie, said she was pleased to read Mr Gordon's report.
She opposes any reconstruction of the breakwall but supports a widening of the footpath.
"We need to recognise this breakwall has stood proud and strong for 139 years," Cr Pinson said.
"We just don't go ripping our heritage up like that, and the social and cultural significance, on top of the heritage significance of this breakwall should not be underestimated."
She has written, as a state election candidate, to Mr Sharp from Transport for NSW, and as mayor, will table Mr Gordon's report and raise a notice of motion at the March 16 council meeting.
Labor candidate Keith McMullen confirmed he will read the report.
Mr McMullen said he supported breakwall repairs, if needed, but not a total reconstruction that will take away some of the breakwall's unique character.
Greens NSW candidate Stuart Watson will also examine the report.
"I understand the community concerns but there are other more pressing issues at the moment, particularly housing stress, cost of living and biodiversity loss, to name but a few," he said.
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